Sunday, 20 October 2013

That Lampeter feeling

Life is a funny old thing. The other day I was on the ubiquitous facebook and I stumbled upon a group on there of people celebrating being at my university in the 1980's. This group has 400 members and you might think this odd, but I probably know at least a third of them. Oops that's given my age away. It is - or was - a tiny university in the middle of rural west Wales and people generally did know everything about everyone as there was nothing else to do there. Looking through people's comments and more importantly the dodgy photos (both the grainy yellowed old ones of people whose faces suddenly seemed as fresh in my memory as people I see now, and then the modern reunion photos of generally fatter, balder, slicker people I could hardly recognise) brought back a whole world of memories and I was in a time warp, back in the Students' Union bar with my feet sticking to the floor, a sickly taste of too much beer in my mouth and the smell of fags so bad that the only way to not get bothered about it was to smoke as well yourself. I spent hours immersing myself in the past, well into the night. I even found a dreadful photo of myself on there, with 1980's spiky hair and a waistcoat my mum had knitted for me. And the more I looked, the more intense the memories became, fabulously happy ones of great friendships that seemed everlasting (none of which I've actually kept alive), laughter and hopefulness for the life ahead. A moral superiority rooted in being 19, invincible and having no idea of the real world, and all living together in halls in an isolated campus, aware of nothing except the much quoted fact that we were in the top 10% (or 1%, depending who you were talking to) of society. It was great. It was as if we had invented life itself. And then there were other memories: the more shaming ones, the ones that came from being young and vibrant and hormonal and all holed up together in halls in an isolated campus with barrels upon barrels of subsidised booze. Not comfortable memories. The memories of being too young to have any sense of responsibility for your own actions. It makes me realise how daft it is that we think we are adults when we hit 18. There was so much growing up to do for many years after that, for me at least. And so much hurting - both getting hurt and hurting others. I don't know when it was that it finally got ingrained into my psyche that you get out of life what you put into it, and that you must treat people as you would like to be treated yourself. But I'm very glad it's there now. I saw a sentence a couple of years ago that for me now sums it all up: "Be kinder than necessary: everyone is fighting some kind of battle".

Anyway this afternoon I got accepted as a member of this group and posted my first post on there, reintroducing myself. I've had a couple of good responses so far; it's a little nerve-wracking as it feels like some kind of judgement of what kind of an 18 - 22 year old I really was. Was I the self-centred vacuous one or the life and soul of the party? Or a bit of both?

It's now one week left until half-term holidays. I am not relishing the thought very much as my boy has, since turning 8, become argument itself, like PMT gone mad. It is apparently a documented phase that boys go through. And in the meantime I really must see if I can get some art done before the end of term...