Hometown

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A sort of memoir short story, reminiscent of times gone.

Submitted: January 29, 2016

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Submitted: January 29, 2016

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As we pulled up to the house we had spent our former teenage years falling in love in, there was a banal sense of nothingness. Everything we could have gotten from this place we had taken with us when we left and now returning as older more mature versions of ourselves, the setting for the next few years of our lives seemed…lacking.

Although I’m from Dublin, I spent a large amount of my growing up in a small suburb twenty minutes outside Swansea. I left at sixteen to return to Ireland and at twenty four, after meeting my ex at a mutual friend’s wedding, a year later we were back together. With both of us arsing around in Dublin and Bristol with little or no direction, we made the decision to return to Swansea to live with her parents and try to build a more substantial future than we currently were. How boring and responsible, right? I know.

We unloaded the car and unpacked our things into the familiar setting of her attic bedroom. It was strange. I wasn’t a comfortable fit anymore.

The next day I walked the same route I had walked a hundred times in my early teens to the local town and I was halfway there before I realised my feet were taking me there without the need of my brain. They already knew where they were going.

Tiny memories of my life here play out before me as I walk. I pass the spot where we lay down and kissed under the trees after school one day. Passed the college I was meant to attend, the wall where we stopped to take pictures of ourselves in love. The old castle ruin where  we used to guzzle vodka and get far too drunk for fifteen year olds.

I reach the town centre and I heard the town hall bells chime and knew the notes before they hit my ears.  You forget how much you remember.  I feel a sadness for the passing of time and the lyrics Time is contagious, everybody’s getting old is suddenly personified here in this little town. It strikes me for the thousandth time how unfair life is and how I wish I was less sentimental.

The town is lined with take aways and the pound shops I used to spend my weekly pocket money is still there selling Union Jack thongs 3 for £1 beside tobacco skins and notebooks with kittens on the cover that have probably been dead for twenty years. The greasy spoon is kept in business by what I’m sure is the six same women for the last decade and the place that sold me cigarettes at fourteen still has the same rack of sweets. The shop is so old it’s feels nearly invisible. But it’s still there, archaic.

I go into one of the newer coffee shops for an hour of solace. It turns out the new owner somehow knows me and I make a mental note that I can’t go in there in a pissy mood and wallow in the corner with my book and journal in future without her engaging with me. The only table there is a table of women gossiping and when my phone rings and I answer, their conversation suddenly goes silent  so they can listen to mine. Where is my cold, corporate Starbucks, brimming with plug sockets and indifference to my wellbeing? I miss my anonymity.

In the evening I go in to my local shop and bump into that girl from my year who always wanted to borrow a pen and never gave it back to me. She’s on her second child now. I am served by that guy who once had a highly publicised relationship via Bebo with one of the popular girl. He has glasses now and looks worn down by life.

We go for a drink in our local and I see the mother of my childhood friend in leather trousers, her breasts falling out as she dances with her wine. What has she done in the decade since I left? I know it’s not my business but I am genuinely interested. Is she happy? She seems to be, I guess.

When you type “Swansea” into Google …is the graveyard of ambition comes up as a suggestion and although I may not necessarily agree with this description, I can see its roots. Growing up there all I remember was looking around and feeling like I didn’t fit in. Not in the sense of longing to, but because I felt so strange amongst all of what was meant to be normal. In school I watched aimless girls and wonder how they could be content in gaining fulfilment from a new pair of heels and a wearing them the Rugby Club on a Friday night when their parents allowed them their first few WKDs.  How could they be happy? I hated it.  I thought myself above these people and couldn’t wait to leave.

Those girls were actually quite lovely people. In school and after. They are just so completely different from what I identified as and still do. The difference feels so large that they feel far away when I’m right beside them.

Writing this makes me feel uneasy. I say all these things yet here I am, sharing the same town with these people. I recently spoke to someone about the “guilt” we feel in coming home and visiting those friends who stayed. The fear that they think we think we are better than them because we moved away. I say I don’t but do I?

Who am I to judge? What is wrong with being happy with this life? Here. The same place you have always been since birth. Spending your Tesco wages on pints with the boys every weekend for the sixth year running.

Are you not bored yet? Do you not want to leave? I know I wanted to.

And still do.

 

 


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