During my late twenties I developed an issue with nostalgia. I was fortunate enough to have had an amazing time growing up with wonderful friends. Coming from a town where nothing really happened, we made our own fun, we dreamt about big cities and how we were moving away to better things, whatever they were. The friends that I made during these years have become friends for life and when we eventually left, we went to universities all over the country and we did fulfill our creative needs, however we never knew how much we’d all miss our roots, the sea and the nights we danced hard with ambition in our hearts to leave.
Living through these bright, vibrant times during the first half of my twenties made it incredibly difficult to move on and embrace the future. Spending weekends back home would always end with the first fifteen minutes of the train journey out of Grimsby Town in tears, and I never knew if these were happy or sad. There were times when crowds of Town fans piled into the already cramped two carriage train and I’d sit there with tears streaming down my face, with a Harry Haddock to the right of me and a can of Carling spilling on to my hair from above. It was these times that I felt it in the pit of my stomach. It’s not the remembering as such, it’s sometimes just the feeling that comes before the memory, the anticipation of knowing that the past is coming, that’s what gets me, that’s what hits me in my gut. I never knew why I felt so negative towards these feelings, only now I do and have come to realise it was my struggle to understand that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t re-create the past.
Last Summer I went to see Kate Nash. During my late teens she was my idol, Made of Bricks was the anthem album to my life at this point. Stood in that room in Rock City I was 19 again. I found the whole experience overwhelming, something that should have been fun and a night of reminiscing left me feeling lost and like I wanted to cry forever.
The taste of garlic sauce on the back of my throat and the insomnia following the night of an attempt to recreate youth. Climbing sticky carpeted stairs to the club were the memories of my late teens lay to rest. The nights I cried over boys that left right before anything really ever began, a lust for something that never happened over an Archers and lemonade and the feeling of never wanting to go home, for the night to last forever. A good friend told me that it’s just like pulling back a curtain from time to time, that we all do it, but I always felt as though I wanted the curtain to stay open forever, only nowadays I get it, I get that its temporary, that I can have a look back, enjoy it, reminisce, but then get on with life. I’ve recently spent a lot of time thinking about who I am. At twenty eight something happened and I began to lose a sense of self, I felt as though the years leading up to this point I had been so true to myself, so confident in being effortlessly different, yet I actually struggled with knowing who I was.
Retrospectively I thought back to times at school, naturally I reflected on how much I had changed, but also on how I felt when I knew that I didn’t want to be like other girls. School was an absolute black hole, I never really fitted in, the size of my teeth and the fact that I wore glasses determined that I probably wouldn’t have any friends or do anything with my life. I wasn’t ‘popular’ I couldn’t play netball/hockey for shit and spent my weekdays longing for Saturdays where I saw my actual friends at a local theatre group, a place where I didn’t even need to begin to think about being weird because it was fine there to be the person you wanted to be. I thought back to these times and remembered how it felt, when you realise who you are, when that happens, when everything that you thought was weird about yourself is welcomed rather than laughed at, that’s what I remembered most at my time of existential crisis. When all the lasses were getting low to rnb and waving their arms about to some shit happy hard core track, I was feeling like an absolute failure because I listened to anything that my dad played in the Citroen AX, which may I add turned out to be all the musical education I needed. Girls wanted to be Christina Aguilera, whilst I wanted to be Debbie Harry and Karen O. My recent self doubt made me think back to the days when I started college, which at this point I was fully aware that I was different, but now I showed it. I was free of school and the fucked up hierarchy system of girls who thought they were everything because they owned a pair of Rockports and ‘got off’ with lads every night. I didn’t even need to think about what they thought anymore. College was full of every genre/personality/style of a person you could ever think of and I never wanted to leave.
Back then I knew who I was, I wore ridiculous concoctions of clothes that I’d picked up in a charity shop which smelt funny and never really fit properly. All I cared about was what I was going to wear on the next Tuesday night out, whether I had enough money to get into Gullies and whether the lads I had been chatting to on myspace would be out. I was a sensitive soul, I wore my heart on my sleeve back then and tended to fall in love with the idea of anyone paying me any attention whatsoever, which often ended up with me spending the next day deleting said lads off of myspace and listening to Radiohead with endless mugs of tea. Yet I’d get back up and do the whole thing all over again. I loved those days, and it was during those times that I met some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, as mentioned above. When I struggle with who I am, I close my eyes and think back to those times which helps and I feel alive again.
‘Imagine being 34, imagine being 38’, the cogs turning in my 25 year old brain, even seeing the number ‘3’ made me feel instantly sick, anxious and as though everything would come to an end. My stomach churned whenever people would mention marriage and children, I felt judged and like I was doing it all wrong. I have come to realise that were all on different journeys, the thought of the future and the fear of not knowing what will happen has definitely frightened me recently and I have spent nights frantically worrying that I’m a massive failure, frantically attempting and failing to somehow predict my own future. The old me would never do that, I lived in the moment, laughed at myself and couldn’t care less if my shit wasn’t together because that’s what I liked the most.
I now struggle with where I’m going, however since Christmas I have reflected and made a conscious effort to remind myself of things that I’ve achieved, things that I’ve thought nothing of but others have admired. I might not be married, have children and a 3 bed semi on a cul de sac, personally I couldn’t think of anything worse. I might not even know career wise where I want to be, I definitely don’t have my shit together and it’s taken me the whole of my twenties to realise that it’s actually ok. I have however acquired life skills that have been somewhat essential, for example being able to navigate myself out of some pretty crazy train journey situations, having been delayed by hours and having to travel five hours out of my way before getting close to where I needed to be. I learnt how to get around on the tube and go to London regularly alone. I moved to a city on my own and went to university to study a passion. I spent the first year of university living with a bunch of eighteen year olds I didn’t know, had nothing in common with and would spend sleepless nights listening to the constant screaming and drinking games contemplating whether I’d actually done the right thing. I learnt how to print my own photographs by hand, learning how to load a film on to a spool in complete darkness is fucking hard! I learnt how to control light, I discovered I have a love for shadows, I put on photography exhibitions and had people view my work in a public place. I had my work feature in magazines. I lived on my own, I lived with people. I moved to a new town where I knew nobody. I learnt how to do a big shop, pay bills and budget. I moved in with somebody who I’ve loved for years and got a mortgage in one of the most beautiful towns in the country. I got a cat. I spoke to people I didn’t know, I worked in a bakery and learnt about bread, I learnt how to pull a pint and spoke to regulars about life. I dressed up as Kate Bush and went out for Halloween dressed as Hayley Cropper, I dyed my hair ginger and went to Las Vegas. I had my photography feature in magazines, I saw Laura Marling three times and cried all the way through for two of them. I learnt how to run, I read books that changed my life, I photographed people’s weddings, one of which took me to a beautiful part of the country I never knew existed. I learnt how to drive, (something I never thought possible).
Remember the millennium? Remember how the whole world was brain washed by the media and society into thinking that the world was going to change, that the millennium bug was coming to get us all? Well fuck all changed did it, we all just got on with our everyday shit. New Year’s Day was like the others that came before. I always imagined hundreds of little glittery bugs running everywhere getting into computers and destroying everything. All the hype, all the fear, for nothing. I’m thirty in 2 days and I’m pretty sure everything is going to be ok.