I met my friend.
We met up in one of England’s most beautiful cities.
It had been at least 2 years since our last time together.
We met in the city where we had first met way back in 1978. 18 yr olds, living away from home for the first time, alive with wonder, eager to grow up, keen to learn every word to all the songs on the Spirits Having Flown album, not sure if we cut it as students.
But that was then and this is now.
We have more wrinkles and more life stories.
We went totally different ways and have very little in common any more but …so what!
We wandered around our old campus and remembered and forgot in almost equal measures. We didn’t for one moment wish those years back but instead talked, laughed, drank coffee and wine together as we once again…amongst the tourist trap of old walls and gothic splendour…enjoyed being together.
Don’t let me forget.
Do we grow into ourselves?
When we were young, Mum would tell us that it didn’t really matter if our new winter coat was too large as we would soon “grow into it”.
So , do we grow into ourselves?
In my teens I was worried about fitting in and being part of the crowd, my 20s were about finding my way in the world, starting work, getting married and having babies, 30s about bring up those children and playing plate spinning with my job, and then my 40s watching them grow up, get jobs/degrees/qualifications and make lives of their own in their own homes with the people they love.
So, now, into my 50s, have i grown into myself?
Have all the experiences made me me?
Am I the completed version of the teenager who didn’t appreciate maybe how great she really was?
Do I maybe have the best, (or worst) characteristics of my, now dead, parents?
Is this woman a person who I would want to be friends with?
Have I grown into the woman I was born to be?
On a visit to York I sat at a table next to four eldery (very!) ladies. I wasn’t deliberately trying to listen but it was inevitable that I would “overhear” some of their conversation.
No talk of their ailments…no siree.
No talk of the latest episode of Corrie…oh no.
No comparisons between Asda or Poundland…No way Jose.
No discussion based around who has died or who is almost dead…nope.
For them the conversation was infinitely more cerebral.
The topics included…the relevance of Alan Yentob. Whether a box of wine was better value than bottles. A marmalade making day one of them was attending. The works of Alan Bennet. The latest art house film that was on at the cinema etc etc etc.
I was oh so impressed. So much so that I (mentally) signed a pledge to myself that, come what may, I will not be a death and illness old lady, but most certainly an Alan Yentob and marmalade one.
I get so much pleasure from simply doing new things.
Once you progress through the years, there aren’t as many new adventures to try, so when I get an idea or an opportunity, I like to try it…at least once.
Today took me an hour’s drive away to a rather beautiful market town that has much to admire about it, but hidden away a mile into the countryside is an open air swimming pool. It is years since I swam in one and I adored it. The breeze as I swam, the trees overhead, the sun on my shoulders and then sitting beside the pool while my limbs dried in the sun. Quite wonderful.
I felt as though I had somehow wandered back into the 1950s it was so low tech. The scout hut style changing building, the lack of showers or lockable cubicles, the two girls who doubled up as lifeguards, cloakroom attendants, cashiers and sun worshippers. It all made for a memorable adventure. The all singing/dancing pool at my town’s leisure centre will never feel quite as exhilarating or magical as the little pool hidden away amongst the country lanes.