There was a road that led home from my school, a long endless road it seemed to me, although I was much smaller, and my legs much shorter. I walked home down this road every day from the ages of 5 ’til 18, often twice a day when I went home for lunch.
I remember small girls thoughts inside my head. Would I always be walking here? Did the Jane of yesterday and the Jane of tomorrow walk along here at the same time as me? Could I one day bump into myself? ( I was a solitary bookish child).
I recalled this when I hijacked a works trip to London with Father of Pearl. London was so close to my Essex home, that school trips, gallery visits and teenage forays all started at Liverpool Street station. F o P dashed off to his meeting while I moseyed over the millennium bridge to catch a tube to the V & A. I found myself face to face with St Pauls, and wondered if a primary aged Jane crept around the whispering gallery, awed, excited, nervous.
I stride, child free and grinning from ear to ear over the Millennium bridge. Briefly I was taken aback and wondered if small girl Jane would believe the world of wheelchairs, special schools and endless fights she would grow up into. Before I had a chance to feel the sad longing for a ‘normal’ life I remembered.
I remembered the quiet serious, bookish child, who struggled to fit in. The girl who was concerned to keep the peace so her poorly Daddy wasn’t worried into hospital with an asthma attack. The teenager who always wore the wrong clothes, bought at the wrong shops and who was declared” the frumpiest girl in the school” (oh how we laughed) The sixth former who on a trip to this very London threw up in Covent Garden (something I ate? Nerves? I’ll never know) which triggered a two year battle with an eating disorder which seemed would make her fade away.
And then I think of my ‘non typical ‘ life the profession I had to give up, the hospital appointments, statement reviews and filing cabinets of reports. The tired days the worried nights, and I catch myself.
I’m happy (and well medicated) confident, loved and in love, with life my jumbley, surprising, unexpected children, my fabulous Northern powerhouse of a husband, with this London – and with myself. Truly. And I remember that the solitary, serious Jane always had a huge capacity to love and was always loved in return.
So unexpected though my life has been would I change it? Well some days, yes. On the mornings I wake dreaming Pearl has started to speak I will always feel an aching and a longing.