Going back to a place from your past is always a little strange as I discovered this weekend when I went back up to Aberdeen. I lived there for nearly four years having intended to go up for less than one. That’s what meeting a man will do for you. You have been warned! It was interesting to see what has changed or, more surprisingly, what hasn’t! In one of my favourite cafés I was served by the same man that used to serve me years ago and one of the toilets is still out of order!
Places have memories built into them. Seats that hosted a nervous you on a first date, views you watched as you talked with friends thinking about the future that you are now in. And sad memories too - places you received bad news, where you were sad, not yourself or just a little lost. After having lunch with some friends I found myself alone in the city and so I walked a while taking in the places I used to see daily and that I now hadn’t seen for years. I wanted to leave Aberdeen for a long time before I did. I’m not sure I ever wanted to be there at all. This is no real reflection on the place, it is just how I felt. Only now can I see the things I gained there - a wonderful husband, a handful of faithful friends, a tougher version of myself that has done me well since I left. As I walked around I felt as if I were seeing it all underwater. Sounds were distant, the sights well remembered but different somehow. I wondered if I was the difference.
I did feel sad, just as I did when I lived there, but I also felt refreshed. I saw the place with different eyes. Like when you look under the bed and realise it isn’t a monster at all, just a rolled up blanket casting shadows. I walked along the beach and enjoyed the place, the sunshine (granted this is rare for Aberdeen!) and the company of friends. There are many reasons why I am happier living where I am - proximity to family, more sunshine, being back on my home turf - but I also realised while I was in Aberdeen that it’s also about who I am now compared to who I was then. I realise what a bad time really feels like and how to identify a good one. I’m more grateful, I suppose. Perhaps stronger, too. It felt good to enjoy the place. The way I wish I had enjoyed it when I was there. And it felt wonderful to see the most important person I met there, my long suffering husband, wandering up ahead of me along the beach and even better, at the end of our trip, to get back to our little house in the place that now very much feels like home.