(No, not like that.)
I was sitting in a pub a few nights ago, chatting with a friend of mine about all manner of things, moving away, spreading your wings and living a bigger life, heading for exciting times. It’s her time for that, and I’m happy for her, excited and at the same time slightly nostalgic and reminiscent. Jeanette Winterson said in her introduction to Oranges are not the only fruit, that “Dinginess is death to a writer. Filth, discomfort, hunger, cold, trauma and drama don’t matter a bit. I have had plenty of each and they have only encouraged me, but dinginess, the damp small confines of the mediocre and gradual corrosion of beauty and light, the compromising and the settling; these things make good work impossible.”
The truth is that writers or no, we all need this time in our lives, that we remember in grainy black and white, living in cold houses with odd people, where the paint peels off the walls, you lie tossing and turning over paying the rent, you meet people who change your life and you become the person you want to be. These are the moments and the experiences that shape you, that stay with you when you’re older and your life begins to settle. These years are the years that are anything but ordinary. They are somehow tinted with promise and the future seems a long way away and something to worry about another day. These are the years for living in the now, that seem somehow reminiscent of an art-house film and make you feel that every moment you live through is special and meaningful.
I have never been one for taking the safer road. When I am old, I would rather be rich in experience than rolling in money. I’ve always considered those wonderful moments you look back on to be beyond price. There is nothing you could offer me that would be worth the price of these momories. They are my movie moments and live as clearly in my mind as if they were caught on film.
If it is true that the whole world loves a lover, then the moments I remember, my celluloid snapshots are those of romance, art and mystery, and my story is a series of love stories that change and transform the heart. From the moment of my very first kiss, I remember that feeling blooming in my heart, a breathless thudding tingle that burst and fizzed like champagne and a sound that rang through me like a symphony.’Twas a feeling that bloomed through art and literature, that knowledge that love lifts you to heights so great that you cannot be ordinary. I suppose that when it comes down to it, it’s our greatest driving force: those moments of love that force truth from our lips and have us acting on our passions in ways we could never predict.
I remember moments of racing through cornfields, hesitant kisses in haystacks and anticipation on cobbled streets. I remember moments of art and flirtation in trees, and bare feet on tiled floors in the middle of the night. I remember crashing parties and making unexpected friends and tumbling helplessly into love in small attic spaces. Of new faces over cheap coffee, and early morning kisses next to the dying embers of midnight campfires. ‘If there was one thing in your life you’d regret not doing, what would it be? ‘ were my words to him. His answer was ‘this‘ as he turned his face to mine and touched my lips with his. There were days of icicles on the insides of windows and sitting on roofs and watching the sunsets. There were moments of sitting under sloping ceilings with paintbrushes and watching my surroundings fall away in a rush as I stared into eyes that held mine in a way that nobody ever has since. There will always be moments on bridges and next to rivers, there will always be the dedications that nobody else understood. There were the moments we took, smuggled away illicitly, that were our own moonshine and the moments we tore from a yawning day to day dullness. ‘I know your heart’ he told me. If only he had known that he already had it to command. Never will I forget being led blindfold into a cathedral only to open my eyes to see a ceiling full of golden stars, swimming in an azure sky.
These are the moments we live for, the moments we never forget. They stay with us because deep in our hearts we know that these are the days that define us. Hold on to these days, for even if there is nothing else, there will always be those magical years with no money and all the magic the world had to offer.