One of the things I was (and still am a bit) most proud of about my early adult life was the fact that when I left home aged 18, I never moved back. I packed up all the belongings I felt were important to me at the time (you know ghetto blaster, Alanis Morrissette CD, liquid eyeliner) and moved on. At the time I wasn’t interested in keeping much from my childhood. I was tasting freedom for the first time and I was all about the future.
That seems like such a long time ago now and the person writing this is not the same as the girl who left home in her boyfriend’s car to travel from Devon to London in 1997, or even the young woman who lived for all her 20’s in London, the very place she wanted to be and the place she came to dislike so much. Now I have a child, a family of my own, and it has bought my past into sharp relief. It’s made me reexamine memories long forgotten. It made me wish I’d kept more of my “stuff”, physical evidence that, I too, was once a child.
My mum called a few weeks ago to tell me that she’d found a box marked “Lisa’s Stuff” in amoung the boxes she’d been storing, some since they moved in 1998. She said that it definitely appeared to be mine, although neither she nor I could think what was in it. So it was with great excitement that I collected the box from my sister’s when we visited over Christmas. I couldn’t wait to get it home and take a look.
The box was rather damp and mildewed, and fell apart once I removed the parcel tape. On the top was a doll. I hadn’t seen her in over 20 years, but then I don’t remember ever not having her. I believe it was given to me as a baby. She was a little moldy and her felt eyes and one cheek had been lost along the way but here she was, something so firmly from my early childhood, it was a little bit like being punched in the stomach.
And it carried on like that. I felt like Tony Robinson, uncovering the layers of history.
Next came the books.
These were the books I learnt to read with, the same kind of ladybird books I had wanted to collect for Oscar. Here were piles of them, every picture dragging me back. Then the Story Teller binders, a magazine and tape I got every week for 6 months when I was about 5. I listened to and later read those stories over and over again, for years. I doubt my parents realised just what an amazing investment these would be.
There were beloved Enid Blyton books (nobody laugh at the title Mr Pink Whistle Interferes please – this was a much more innocent age!!! 😉 ) and annuals and various other titles. It was a joy to hold them again, read the words, look at the illustrations and remember.
Then there was the school work – mostly from the late Juniors and early Seniors. I found project work about Australia and the Second World War and a whole folder of stories I’d written. I sat up way into the night just reading them. It’s amazing just how much I was influenced by Australian soap operas as an 11 year old and it’s even more amazing that my wonderful teacher at the time, Mrs Tooth, encouraged my style. Bless her. Even back then she told me I “considered my audience”! Although I did also have a taste for the slightly macabre, with titles such as The Holiday Terror and The Birthday Horror (don’t ask!)
I had such a fantastic evening, rediscovering parts of me I’d left behind. I found a jigsaw, that we had always kept at my paternal grandmothers (no idea how I got it) and this has been given to Oscar, along with some of the books. The Kylie Annual 1990 was a real hoot and I also found a couple of photos. One was my class photo from my first year in infant school (I look just like a long haired, brunette, female version of the boy!). The other was from when I won a competition at a holiday park in Cornwall when I was 11. I look so lovely, so tanned and happy.
Then as I was looking through the books, I found a print out of a piece I’d written about myself when I was 13, called All About Me.
This is it.
Parts of it made me smile. I still don’t live in a cottage in the Cotsworlds or a mansion in the Caribbean (although both of those things still sound awesome!). I still don’t like Pasties and although I can tolerate spaghetti now its still not my fave. I would still love to go Scuba Diving – I have tried but my epilepsy is an issue. I liked the bit about career choices. Actress, Social Worker or Counselling Person (!). I am not and wouldn’t want to be an Actress, I’d rather eat my own arm than be a Social Worker and if I assume a Counselling Person means a Counsellor then I don’t really think I’ve got the patience. But I do enjoy helping people so maybe that’s enough.
But part of it made me really sad. I was 13 and I was concerned with money (or lack of it) and my weight. At 13. I looked again of the picture of me at 11. I wouldn’t say the girl in that picture was overweight, but when I look back I know I felt it. I’ve been/believed myself to be overweight all my life. And what you believe will be the truth.
It broke my heart, but it also made me realise that it’s time to change those beliefs. Those deep rooted, long held beliefs, the ones you’ve had so long you don’t even know you have them. I couldn’t have found this at a better time in my journey. I intend to prove to that young girl, that you don’t have to be what you believe you are. You can change. I will make her wish come true.
Although World Peace might be a stretch!