It is a fact I can no longer avoid. I am hurtling towards 40.
I have a memory of being six, the same age Ellis, my elder son, is now. A Wednesday afternoon, after school, in my grandparents’ beautiful, huge garden. Laying on the grass, crumpling my best dress (which, being a tomboy, I loathed), gazing up at the vast expanse of azure sky, and daydreaming on what it would be like in ten years’ time. When I would be a whole sixteen. A grown-up. How wonderful it sounded, how sophisticated, how marvellously, deliciously exciting to be one of the girls who congregated at the bus stop outside our house; made-up like princesses, with their grown-up shoes and David Bowie t-shirts.
Sixteen came, and sixteen went in a blur of exams, and school-gate petty arguments with a few memorably funny moments inbetween, and burying my head in books to block out a world I didn’t really like, and certainly didn’t understand. I spent a lot of time in the library; or sitting, with my backcombed hair and charity shop ‘dead man’s coat’, on a bench in town scowling morosely at the ‘townies’ or reading The Melody Maker, the epitome of cool in 1988. I stayed in, I listened to The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division. John Peel every evening before bed. Sixteen, for me, was not spent sitting at the bus stop made-up like a princess. It was mostly being acutely aware that I wasn’t like my peers. I had very little confidence, I was not one of the ‘cool girls’. I’ll admit it, part of me would have loved to have been.
Fast forward to 1998, and twenty-six. Living in London, with a high powered job and earning good money in public relations. I had gone to St David’s University College, Lampeter in 1992 and graduated (somehow!) in 1995 with a 2:1 in English and Victorian Studies (Joint Honours). I had been phoned by the Head of Faculty in the summer of 95 where she begged me to go back in the Autumn to undertake my Masters in ‘The Word and The Visual Imagination’, then continue on as a tutor in order to complete a PhD. Unfortunately, finances could not stretch to such ideas – I vowed to move to London to get a job and save to go back to Lampeter and fulfill my dream. London, however, is not so easy to escape from.
Things got rocky, very rocky. Things I do not wish to go into here, as they are too personal and too painful to dredge up again. Suffice to say, the sun shone again when I met Richard, and he brought me ‘home’ to Scotland.
Fast forward to 2008, and thirty six. A mother at last, after an almost fatal ectopic pregnancy and several miscarriages; I now had two beautiful, healthy sons. I was a housewife (albeit unmarried), a mother, without a wage or a hobby to call my own. Content, but not exactly relishing my life. Not appreciating it. Not pushing myself in any way. Just….existing.
I am now heading towards forty. The last ten years have gone in a flash. The ten years between the bright-eyed, crumpled-dressed six year old and the morose, Doc booted sixteen year old went oh, so slowly. The time since I turned thirty – well, what happened? Did I blink too slowly? Where did the years go?
The next ten are going to go even faster, aren’t they? And I am not going to get them back.
It is time to celebrate what I have, and who I am lucky enough to share my life with – my family, and friends; and all the people, places and things that move me.