Tomorrow I'm heading up to Manchester, which I've not been back to in seven years. My dad's from Manchester and I was at uni there. I hadn't planned to spend much time with my dad's family - I didn't know them very well - but when I became desperately homesick, my auntie and uncle swung into action.
They'd come and pick me up any time I was feeling rotten, and take me to theirs and feed me, do my washing, let me use their phone, lend me stuff for my house - in short, they were surrogate parents to me while my own parents were 250 miles (and seven hours on a coach) away.
When I graduated, I went home, but after a year of mindnumbing tedium and bad jobs, I decided I'd take a chance on a life in Manchester... and ended up living with my aunt and uncle for nine months, until it became apparent (ie I found myself working in a callcentre) that things were not meant to be and I packed my bags and moved back down South to Brighton.
I want to spend lots of time seeing my folks of course, but I hope I get the chance to take myself off on the bus so I can explore some of my old haunts. I'm quite a nostalgic sod anyway, and the time I spent in Salford / Manchester was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster... chronic homesickness, blossoming friendships, unrequited love, creative frustration (and occasionally creative abandon), and being toughened up and exhilarated by city life in equal measure.
I expect I'll well up as I walk through Salford Precinct, and I'll brush away a tear as I mourn the demise of Lewis's department store. I'll smile wistfully as I wander down Market Street, remembering my stint as the Girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk. My heart will race as I climb the stairs in Afflecks Palace, or descend into the basement of Fred Aldous.
And of course the one thing guaranteed to reduce me to a blubbing mess is the bear hug I expect to get from my uncle when he picks me up at Piccadilly Station. Sniff...