For the last few days I have been visiting my old university town. I still have some very good friends who for one reason or another (mostly to continue their education) have stayed after the completion of their degree. I am very willing to admit I am a bit jealous; I would love to still be studying and living in my old university town as it was a world all its own. It had an atmosphere of complete security, people could walk around this town with cats on their shoulders, in drag, in the most outrageous outfits and no one would bat an eyelid. It was a town that cultivated bizarre friendships and brilliant and splendid individuals. It encouraged the delightful bliss of time whiled away with like minded people in a world of your own creation.
Going back probably isn’t healthy because I know it is my escape, but in my defence my friends have stayed with no lasting blight other than the fact they may now never depart this dream like getaway from reality. My university town and my experience there was like that moment when you are about to jump into the water; you have already decided you are going to jump, there is no question about it and you could be excited or terrified but it doesn’t matter because you are completely exhilarated. Everything goes through your head at a fantastic speed, it makes you dizzy but you recall it all because the world has slowed down so you can savour every moment. I made friendships there so fast I can’t ever remember a moment when we weren’t friends or a time we won’t be friends, lessons I learnt there resonate with every step I take in life and I have seen beauty that is now reflected in the world around me. I go back not just to feel the friendships, lessons and gain sight more clearly I go back to feel like I’m almost about to jump again.
I also go back because in a changing world it is always familiar, it never seems to change. I walk down the same streets and corridors I did when I started three years ago and can still describe every detail, every smell, every touch, and every sight. My university and uni town is not where I found myself or my greatest friends, it is where I go to measure my life, where I have been and where I am going. I go back to measure myself alongside mountains and the sea and not be judge because it is my world and I’m only measuring it against myself and my expectations .
This time I returned to engage in something called the Christmas Coffee, it was created in my first year by me and a group of friends. We huddle together with mass amounts of boiling coffee and sizzling treats and argue horrendously about anything and everything, swapping presents and stories and well wishes before we vanish with a little bit of glitter and magic for the holiday. This year was done very early to avoid conflicts of work and commitments. A very grown up step for us all, at one time lectures and seminars would have been missed presents forgot and packing left to engage in this simple past time. I sat there with an outlandish smile on my features and came to a realisation that struck me like an unexpected icy wave that knocks all sense out of you for a moment. My university town may not be where I found myself or my greatest friends but it is where I feel most like myself because it lets me be her without judgement and with security. That said my uni town has lost its shine, I see the cracks now, the dark and dingy side that eluded my vision before and if I came back to often the shine would go and my memory would be a lie over whelmed by a new truth.
I would have to find somewhere else to be me or risk losing my uni town forever. For now nevertheless there was coffee, there was cake and there was laughter and shouting to be had. Somehow however this time the real world crept in there was life to plan, living arrangements to hate, weddings to tease about, university work and jobs to be criticised and envied. The world of our own creation was being invaded and none of us seemed to be stopping it.