My grandad was from Derby, I've always known that as I have been told a lot I have a little northern twang in my accent. As hubby is from Nottingham, we decided almost right away that if we could afford this area, I would likely feel more comfortable and not feel so alien. As luck would have it the cost of living is cheaper. My 2 bed flat in Dagenham was costing £700 a month! We found a 3 bed detached house for £500 a month and immediately started arrangements to view it. The whole process was quite quick, we viewed the house and gave the landlord our paperwork and deposit within 2 weeks. The week later we moved. That was 3 years ago. I have never regretted it, my kids are happier and in better schools. He found a job right away and the people were friendlier. Recently my sister had her baby and I arranged to go to Dagenham to see them both. As the day got closer I panicked about coming back. At first I was excited. I have heard that quite a few people that things are so different since I left. Arriving here yesterday though I am not so sure!
The second I arrived in Kings Cross and got near the underground, the amount of arrogant people just hit me. I am used to people waiting till others are off the bus/train before trying to get on, ques of friendly people instead of idiots trying to push their way to the front in one huge pile, people offering a seat for a pregnant or elderly person, my kids not being forced to be squished against the door because some idiot wants to put a huge bike on the train! I deliberatly booked tickets a lot earlier than rush hour. Spending most of my adult life travelling on the underground I am fully aware how busy the 4-5pm rush is! Pulling up to St Pancras I immediately knew that I was no longer in Nottingham. Looking out the window all you could see was huge buildings and graffitied walls. The thought of being back now just filled me with dread. I was no longer excited I just wanted to get home!
Dagenham itself hasn't changed. It's still dirty, the same shops I went in are still here with the same staff. I had a quick walk round to where my flat was and that's still exactly the same just a different occupant. I walked to the park where at 14 I once got so drunk on bottles of hooch and lambini that I had to phone my dad to come get me as I couldn't stand up! I was grounded for 3 months solid and made to eat plain bread and strong black coffee till I sobered up! At 13 I sprayed my tag on a wall behind the bowls building... It's still there! It was almost as if it was frozen in time, nothing at all had changed apart from the buses are now not taking cash! I also took a walk to some of the places which hold some not so nice memories, the places where if those things didn't happen I wouldn't be who I am today. It was hard to revisit them but I felt better doing it.
Coming back I have realised how silly I was to not move sooner. I love where I am now. My family are not nearby but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. I am still proud of where I am from and will always call Dagenham home but since coming back I have realised that I throw that term around too much. Home is now in Nottingham, where my family are. When the time comes and we move from Nottingham, I will be excited about where my new life is starting and think next time round I will handle the whole move so much better. Next time I will remember the good memories and will look forward to where life takes me :)