For the last few days I have been visiting the town I used to call home. Although it isn’t where I was born, it is where I grew up. It is where I ticked off many milestones on my journey to the place I am today. When I am not there it is a just a memory, albeit it a fine one, but I have little time in my life for yearning. When I am there, however, it is much more. Seeped in memories, they ambush me at every turn. These are mostly happy, but a few are sad. I am melancholic for things that have been lost, regretting that I didn’t appreciate the privilege of growing up here, sadness at leaving special people who will always be in my heart. Ghosts lurk at every corner. Some taunt, some comfort me.
Things have changed over the years. Of course it is still beautiful; surely no one could sully the fabulous beaches, the jaw-dropping views out to Mrs Woolf’s lighthouse or the coastal moorland of Man’s Head, the stiletto snapping cobbles and of course that famous luminescent light. Now it is far more affluent and the season is long and unremitting. The shops of my day are becoming sparse, in their place expensive boutiques, eating establishments and jewellery stores. I was saddened to see that the chippy where my younger brother worked in his youth had closed. He would return from his toils perfumed with Essence de Chip Fat. The cafe which has replaced it looks lovely. I would imagine that they steam their vegetables.
So we roamed the streets with best of them. We stayed in a proper grown-up hotel with views across to the harbour. Nightly the waves crashed against the rocks not 10m below our room, driven by a raging wind, the sound both welcome and soothing. We gasped at the sight of dolphins and seals close to the shoreline. We went to the opening of an enchanting pottery exhibition and met some fine earthy folk. We ate haddock and chips in a relic yet to succumb to the relentless march of healthy eating. We visited art galleries. We wandered through an exotically planted sculpture garden ducking into a bougainvillea sheathed shelter when the persistent rain turned up a notch. We met with old friends and laughed and recollected. We had a wonderful time.
On the way back I reminisced alone this time, remembering the many times I had sat on this train and cried. So fresh was the feeling of being wrenched away to another world, far from my power source, that another tear came to my eye. In my heart there is a ember which is dense as a black hole. This is where my home town lies. It takes only a gentle south-westerly to reignite this flame.
When we opened our front door I was pleased to be home. I was also sad to leave my home.