It’s odd to be back. Driving around streets I knew but had forgotten and hadn’t thought about in years was weird. The memories kept coming back hard and fast, and they pounced from each street corner.
I was 8 years old and had just mastered roller blading, a car of teens cheered I’m sure now ironically, but at the time it felt like I had my own cheer leading squad. I felt like a million dollars. Walking my dog down the footpath when he was a pup, and again less of a pup. Trying to build up running stamina with my friend Jude. Night walks between the trees to meet a guy, holding hands in the dark, feeling like we were the only ones in the world. Riding my bike with my sister behind and Dad in front, wind on our faces, sun above. Big family friend picnics, around the BBQs, smells divine…
Memories flick through my mind a million a second. I forgot it could be like this. Living in a place like London where I don’t have that kind of history makes it easy to forget, I’m too busy making new memories to remember the past. Here? In Auckland? I can’t not remember. The memories are everywhere.
I’m driving my old car down the streets I grew up on. My dog leans out the passenger side window like he’s always done, the radio is playing the same tunes it always did. It feels like the last three years hadn’t happened. That all the things I’ve done, the things I’ve seen, the adventures I’ve had… They’re reduced to nothing. I’m in the same place I’ve always been.
Is this who I am? Underneath all the bravado, is this it? Does my history make me the person I am? Do all my adventures count for nothing?
Aaand then I got on a plane and went to Thailand, where I swam with elephants and took selfies with little baby tiger cubs. Turns out I can be whoever I want to be.
My history is clearly a part of who I am, and must have carved out, carefully defined and shaped who I am. Lucky for me, the history doesn’t define who I can be.
It’s odd to be stuck in a moment. To be swallowed by the familiar like you’ve never left, and never will. To both shrug into it like an old comfy hoodie and at the same time feel stifled. I guess this is what home feels like now.