I love the way life has a habit of surprising you so unexpectedly.

It’s been a Bank Holiday weekend, and with the extra unscheduled time, some of which I devoted to spring cleaning, I came across a treasured possession.

A small, unassuming spiral bound notebook of poems can set you on a time travelling journey. The notebook is undated, but one look at it and I know for sure it chronicles my life in Nottingham from late winter 1998 to early summer 1999. Taking responsibility for your own life as an adult seemed an amazing adventure at times. Budgeting, falling in love, embracing loneliness and difference, making mistakes; all part of growing up and captured in my verses. Fascinating, conflictive, exhilarating times, I am stunned when I realise this was 16 years ago.  Time travel at its best.

Yet the notebook comes with a bittersweet postscript: it’s the realisation once again of how life shapes the people we become. My rebellion against the establishment (anti-conspicuous consumption poetry and more) was then at an all-time high. My ideas about love were completely naïve. And, it goes without saying, I desperately wanted my life to be completely different to my parents’. I had a handful of friends with whom I lost touch completely over the years, as we changed. Growing up is accepting that, like shooting stars, sometimes you are never to stand together in the same room again.

Considering how much I have since changed, it amazes me that a sizeable part of me was already in my writing – the leopard’s stripes that never change. Learning to live, writing to reach people and to deal with the exquisite torture of love, battle everyday frustrations and scare away the ghost of loneliness. After years of thinking I was a weirdo and a loner, I was beginning to appreciate my personality and letting some people close to me. I will forever treasure the memory of myself writing poems in the top floor box room at 5 College Drive, and essential part of growing up.

But it wasn’t just me that changed, it was the world,. A world without social media, ipads and digital photos, ISIS or 9/11 – all forever gone.

It hasn’t been an easy ride along the way. I had an idealistic desire to change the world, word by word, that has not yet come to fruition, although I will always define myself as a writer. Along the way I am learning to balance those dreams with a reality, so I can keep the better version of myself alive, so I can be who I am underneath it all:

‘Three for the prize of two

is not a cure for the existentialist’s disease

nor does it save me

from the spell of true words.’

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