I am from a mother who put on babysuits and didn’t look at what had gone wrong. I am from The Evening Standard, from strong smelling university labs and students, who once seemed old and now seem young, who thought i was as cute as pie. I am from a garden and a path, from baby rabbits and the caterpillars on the willow tree i planted.
I am from ballet lessons in bare feet and not being able to hide those funny, stubbly toes. I am from blue pinafores and beige cardigans, from “I am, I can, I ought, I will”. I am from the holly bush i hid in when the world outside was scratchier than the refuge it provided. I am from Louisa the merciless, and a room with 8 classmates where no one was brave enough to be my friend.
I am from a carpet made of islands and hopping from one to the other, imaginary lands that didn’t need the friends who weren’t there. I am from unicorns on my windows, found in a Christmas stocking and still there to see 25 years later. I am from a secret toy my sister found and took, from hot water bottles we used for babies, from books that i read over again and the games i dreamt from them.
I am from a garden of daffodils, pine trees to cycle through, a swing that was just my own and a grandad that had more time for me than i ever had back for him. I am from only discovering that secret hoard of love when it was too late to listen. I am from sweetie hunts, a blue and gold bike and a room with a sink of its very own.
I am from growing in one house, then growing up in another. I am from a school that wanted us to be all the same and what it cost me to refuse. I am from the C set in maths and 69% in exams, and teachers who told me i’d never achieve anything. I am from always being too white, too round, too frizzy, too slow to answer back. I am from the biggest house i knew, with the smallest amount of furniture. I am from a mossy lawn, yew trees and an octagonal garden folly we never went into.
I am from cherry blossom that drifted on the saddest days of my life, from locked eyes across a grieving crowd of teenagers, from spring that is always dimmed around the edges. I am from a twisting road, an unheeded warning, mangled metal and broken bodies. I am from the girl who held a boy who wept when death came calling. I am from a hot summer in the company of transient friends who we loved and leaving behind childhood in the space of a week. I am from funerals everywhere and how time carries on regardless.
I am the young woman who embraced a man who asked for no sympathy or understanding and wanted no-one to love him. I am from a wedding with a baby beside us and arms that are always there. I am the mother who saw a gap and knew she could fix it. I am from hospital trips and hours in restaurants waiting to hear that nothing unthinkable had happened. I am from an angel photo that was our gift to the people who came after. I am from holding a girl who couldn’t talk and couldn’t listen to me but who grew to be so beautiful all through. I am from sleepy nights and jelly cream and a child who cannot rest. I am from curls after straight and the chubbiest knees in the household. I am from babies who hurt me and babies who healed me. I am from operating theatres and wards painted yellow and deciding to be happy.
I am from carrying a secret that i didn’t keep safe. I am from looking at nothing and seeing a space.
I am from boxes and memories and things i keep to remember. I am from parcels and packets and “in a minute.” I am from “could do better” and “must try harder.” I am from “do what you must come what may” and trying to live up to my own expectations.
With thanks for the exercise to Jax 🙂