There’s always an emotional ambivalence whenever I visit the place I grew up. It ranks as one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been to in this country – yet of course I never appreciated this as a child – and today was no exception.
The sun cast its warm rays on fields of long wheat and fallow grass as I walked off a lovely delicate roast down into the village while the afternoon heat and brilliant light brought out butterflies and grasshoppers in their multitude, dancing and singing in celebration of the peaceful joys of Summer.
Every so often I disturbed a rather dopey sheep or a petrified rabbit and, as I made my way down into the small sheltered community which had sustained itself for over a thousand years, a huge sense of peace washed through me, untangling the knots that have been keeping their white knuckle grip on my upper back these past few months.
Yet at the same time there was an innate melancholy dragging me down more and more strongly the further I descended down into the valley. The sensation grew to such an extent that after a while I wondered why I do this to myself. Why do I travel down there only to be disappointed by what I find? And why am I disappointed by this as I know every single time exactly what it is that I will find?
Nothing changes and yet everything has gone.
I guess I have to accept in my character the down side of being a hopeless nostalgic; you are constantly chasing something that does not exist, longing to embrace that which by its very nature cannot be grasped. Time is ethereal, relative and abstract, yet here I am yet again trying to recapture those moments as if they were etched in stone and preserved in the very landscape that cradles my family home. Searching in vain to recapture the solace that comes from the period in my life when I felt the most content.
No matter how beautiful the surroundings, those fields aren’t half as wonderful to walk through alone as they were years ago when I enjoyed many a summer’s day such as this in these fields with close friends. It represented a time when nothing really mattered and anything was possible, but the one person who made me so happy growing up, sheltering me from the loneliness and isolation that comes from living in the middle of nowhere, is no longer there, long since moved away and got on with their life as I had – or as i thought I had.
Refusal to accept this, no matter how immature I know it is, is always lurking in the back of my mind and so it seems silly to force my own arrested development down my own throat. Trouble is, the vestiges of my past are still there and so i will always be drawn back there, particularly on a gorgeous summer day.
And I still believe that anything is possible. The difference is now I know exactly what you have to to get there…