One of my favorite parts of human existence is how a scent can sucker punch you, sending you on a time-traveling expedition. This a.m. I walked outside and was transported back in England…to those drizzly, mild days of white skies and grey sidewalks in Peterborough. The memory trip was so intense that I could taste the tea and shortbread that Fran would send ‘round 3 times a day to the staff at the long-term youth shelter, and hear David Grey’s gravelly voice playing in my ear during late nights at my tiny flat.
Sometimes I find myself thinking that, if I could go back and do one thing differently, I would tell my young self not to go to England with a boyfriend still at home. Instead of leaving my heart back in America – which made it so much easier to be homesick and miserable – I wish I would’ve jumped into my new life in my ancestral home with both feet. Instead of sitting on my wide window ledge and writing long, teary missives, I should have been exploring the city with Fran and dancing in clubs with foreign boys and visiting new friends in Scotland, Ireland, and France. I think I would have given England more of a shot, then. I might have even stayed.
But I was also so, so in love…even with all that I know now, my young self would never have given that up. So like every time-traveling story, it’s all an envelope of space and time. I had a mind-bending thought last night, when the song “Blood On My Hands” by The Sundays came into my head for the 500th time this week. It’s an anthemic song from my early teens, when I devoured anything remotely angsty and British, but I had no idea, at 14, how the endless listening of that song would prepare me for life at 38. It’s the kind of childhood talisman that mysteriously appears in a protagonist’s hand right when they need it the most. And England…that small, smooth, sun-bleached pebble of memory makes me realize that, even now, I’m holding space for someone, for a city, and merely biding my time in this new place until I can get back to both. But maybe, this time, I don’t want to regret that, later. Maybe I don’t want to look back and wonder what might have happened, if I would’ve just jumped in with both feet.