Recently I've regularly found myself looking back a couple of years, back to when I was 21 and in my final six months of my BA. I'm struck by the changes that must have taken place between now and then - all of them completely unnoticeable, yet combined they have created a life, and in some ways even a person, that is completely different only two years later.
I look back on that time with immense joy, because it was a period that I never would have planned for myself, and a period that I know will only happen that once in my whole lifetime. Living in absolute freedom, recklessly, passionately; learning and loving and living like I never had before. It was a summer of camping trips, romantic weekends by the sea, picnics in the garden and cocktails in fancy riverside bars - so much time was spent enjoying that amazing amount of free time that we are given as students.
It was a period of falling in love - with Daniel, with myself, with life. As if my eyes had been closed for a while, or at least that my vision was blurred, and suddenly, with the help of a strange, blue-eyed man who I inconveniently couldn't stop thinking about day-in, day-out (final exams and intense love affairs are not a good combination, but it worked out ok, thank goodness), I was slowly realizing that life wasn't going to plan, and thank heavens that it wasn't!
Life not going to plan ended up being the making of who I am now. I suppose that's true for all of us, however things might turn out. But I was so set in my ways, so ready for what was set out ahead of me that I didn't even consider looking around me. I don't know what it was that changed all of this, what it was that made me question my own comfortable circumstances and instead choose a thoroughly uncomfortable path for myself. But this uncomfortable path lead me directly into the world I am in now. Suddenly the blossoms bloomed brighter and the world started beckoning to be explored. I started running further, I started walking just for pleasure, I started drinking fresh sour lemonade on sunny park benches and staying out late to watch the sun set. I laid awake half the night listening to my favourite bands and spent half my wages on interesting and exotic vegetables. I got horribly drunk shamefully often and still dragged myself to university the next morning to learn all I could. I cut all my hair off and wrote articles for the University Women's Society magazine, I learned to knit and started sewing again.
It seems a little arrogant to be reeling off these things like that, but only two years later I am in awe of myself back then, of this period of my life that seems so foreign from where I am right now. I can see how I have got here from there, how the life I lived then is still soundly manifested in how I live now. Who I was back then might have turned her nose up at me ironing Daniel's shirts, or lounging in the shade on a sunny day. She might be disappointed that I'm no longer quite so passionate about philosophy, and that I still haven't read my book of essays by Sartre. She'd probably be horrified that I've gained a stone, that I only practise yoga once a week, and that I'm dreaming with increasing regularity of the days when I might settle down and have a family.
I guess I'm coming round to the fact that I'm growing up; that the adventures have to come down a notch or two and that real life isn't actually a constant party, or a constant holiday. I'll probably never get back into my tiny jeans again, I'll probably never get to my yoga mat five days a week again, I'll probably never stay up all night listening to Midlake and kissing someone I was sure was just a friend again. But that's ok. The blossoms still bloom just as brightly as they did back then, and the world is still begging me to get out and explore. As it happens, I quite like ironing Daniel's shirts, yoga when I do it feels all the more amazing, and I rather like the idea of planning for more than just us two. It sort of feels like a new adventure is taking shape right here under my feet.