I am on holiday. Today the sun is shining, I have swum in the sea and my feet have found the comfortable groove in my flip flops. We come to the same Spanish village a few times a year and, after the first day, it starts to feel like home.
As I wander through the village I notice the same old sights and the familiar faces and it feels as though nothing has changed. I know my way around and have mapped these landmarks in my mind’s eye. These are the memories I carry with me on rainy Wednesdays at home when all I want is to drift somewhere far away. Over time, the village has slowly become a part of me.
But, as I wander further and look more closely, I begin to notice the details. The differences. Whilst we have headed home and rejoined the ‘real world’, this little part of me has not simply stood still. Time changes everything.
And, as I am on holiday and have the time, my mind leaves me to wander further still to the important places of my past.
Once, when I was at university and inspired by something I had read, I attempted to map the markers of my world. Not a map for tourists or visitors, just for me. A visual representation of the places that made up my world and meant something to me. The corner by the bakery where I would meet my friends on the way to school. An alleyway where we once lost my brother. The canal tow path I would trek along daily to visit my first real love. Secret short-cuts and discrete doorways found prominence over local landmarks. I never finished the map, and I guess I probably never could, but I think of it often.
Because I carry these places with me too. They have made me. And, all too often, I long to drift away and find my feet there. Many of them wouldn’t make the map of my world today, some are even no longer there at all but they all exist somewhere within me.
And I continue to wander and wonder how time has changed them. More than mere months have passed since I have visited most. They are undoubtedly different. But I am sure that it is me who has changed the most.
How would the person I am today feel to stand in these long lost locations? Would I still know them or simply notice how strange they seem?