Monday, 22 August 2011

Unfamiliar memories

Our last night in London, we jumped on the bus and went to Parliament Hill. The kids hadn't been going to sleep until about 10pm for the previous three nights and so we decided to keep them up late, to teach them a lesson they wouldn't forget in a hurry, and save ourselves the heartache of trying to get them to go to sleep.

We decided on Parliament Hill because it was a beautiful sunny evening, and it is the place where Tom proposed to me about eight years ago.  We wanted to show the girls the place where their Mum and Dad sat sipping champagne out of plastic wine glasses, gazing at the sparkling diamond, feeling utterly elated and dizzy from the moment, while fat men flew kites in the background.

As we strode up the hill, we passed many familiar landmarks (the Mandala pub, Tanza Road, the memorial bench), and it filled me with nostalgia and now slightly unfamiliar memories of being in my twenties, and spending long lazy afternoons here with my friends picnicking and drinking cider. Then a few years later the memories of Tom and I throwing frisbees, flirting, and talking a lot of rubbish to each other,while building on our friendship, which would eventually turn into marriage, and a Betty and a Dolly. Who would have thought.

Every time we go to London now, my former pre-children life seems to slip a bit further away. I found it almost impossible to remember the sense of total freedom and independence that I had when I sat in the very same park, a park that hadn't changed at all.  It was all reassuringly the same, yet felt alien - like I was some kind of fraud for thinking I did exist then - a much thinner, younger, carefree, less serious, less stressed me. 
 
I watched my girls dancing freely on top of the hill, while posh Hampstead types walked past and gave them admiring looks.  The wonderful views of London were behind them, and Tom was photographing them, and I felt very happy, and very proud. 

11 comments:

Sandy Calico said...

What a beautiful post. You made me feel wistful for those carefree days. I think that once you've had a baby a switch is flicked and you can't remember what life was really like BC. How lovely to make new memories with your girls x

Nora said...

I'm already to the point where I don't remember what it was like to be carefree, but I wish I did. Maybe in a next life? I'm glad that you're proud of your girls and you should be rightly so. They look like quite the pair.

Expat mum said...

I lived and worked in London in my 20's and this summer I spent a day dragging the kids around the Covent Garden/Strand area pointing out where I got the bus, where my office was etc. They must have been bored stiff with my stories but we had a great day anyway!
You're right though, it is like a dream.

Iota said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iota said...

Funnily enough, this summer we also took our children to the place where Husband proposed to me (which up till then had been a closely guarded secret). It was fun. 7-yo wanted us to re-enact the event, but we declined that.

Elsie Button said...

Hi Sandy, yes life BC is unimaginable, which is a bit sad in a way - but as you say, so wonderuful to make new memories!

Hi Nora, quite the pair indeed!

HI Expat Mum, I bet your kids loved hearing your stories!

Elsie Button said...

Hi Iota, I LOVE the way kids become fascinated with things like this - it's a great excuse to relive it again (sort of).

Lucia said...

That sounds beautiful.

Elsie Button said...

Hi Lucia, and the view of London from the hill is stunning! x

Vera said...

Now I am older, (60+) when I revisit memories of how I used to be it feels like I am visiting someone I have left behind. Maybe this is because I have trained myself to live for today, take the good from the past and let go all that was not so good, and try to remain optimistic for the future which sometimes is quite, quite, difficult. This survival technique of mine has served me well, which is perhaps why I am not the same person as I was, and why I will not be as I am today in the future. It is like I am constantly evolving, always moving towards a newer self. Precious are the memories to hold in the heart, not so good is the regret which sometimes goes with them. Gosh, a bit of a long comment, but you did get me thinking, so thanks for that!

Elsie Button said...

Hi Vera, I think that is good training and a very positive way to deal with things....