October 30th, 2007


Stepping Stones

Long time no write, Livejournal.

So I’m sitting here, eating fried noodles, drinking ginseng green tea, and listening to the beautiful, wonderous, music of Helen Trevillion. Music that you really ought to hear at least once, from a really wonderful person. I’m especially listening to a track called ‘My Winter’, which reminds me how the seasons are slipping. The trees’ golden canopies are slowly disintegrating into bare brown skeletons. The dark creeps ever earlier, and light drizzle replaces days of smoky sunlight. November is knocking at the door. No wonder this particular time of year is so celebrated, be it Halloween, Samhain, Divali, or Bonfire Night.

I would relax and enjoy the night, but life is pressing. The 12th Class have had the first half of this week off due to a class trip, and I hadn’t realised Birgit was back from Kansas, so I’ve only managed one lesson thus far this week. I felt guilty over that, so I’ve been planning for later lessons, only to have one of them jump to first period tomorrow morning. First period in German schools starts at about quarter to eight, so I’m going to have to get up early, only then to teach my first true lesson (if the introductory thing didn’t count). I’m using what I have, and so I’ve got 13 of my own photographs from around the UK, and I shall be giving one to each pair, giving them a minute to write down what in the photo seems ‘typically British’, and what seems surprising. I’ve got a fair mix: fish and chips, pubs, London busses, security cameras, chavs, and King’s College Cambridge. I hope it goes well, but given I’ll be starting at the point I normally get out of bed, I’m not so certain…

Then, later, I talk about cricket for 15 minutes. I’ve got rough plans in place until the end of the week, and then next year, Bonfire Night raises its British head to give me a theme to talk about…even if I won’t be able to celebrate it properly this year (although I did hear one of the Schleswig assistants had a plan). I’ve generally found that things are easier once you’re in the classroom, but the things that prove problematic are often those that were unforeseen. I’ve got Arne acting as a mentor for me at the moment, and he’ll be there tomorrow, whilst I discuss the photos, and lead into a discussion of British and German stereotypes…

I’d have essays if I were back at Royal Holloway. On that note, my sense of where I stand in my life has gone pretty haywire. On the one hand, studenthood seems a long way from the more independent life I’m currently managing, but on the other, I look on Facebook and see photos of events, read copies of the Orbital…things are moving on, so very distant from where I sit now. I get the feeling that returning to university next year will be a very disorientating experience…even moreso as things back there keep changing. There’s a new hall, with modern facilities, standing in the same place as my first year accommodation stood, the late Williamson. I feel so disconnected with university, but at the same time, I’ve not left it.

It goes beyond that, of course. I’ve been going through old photos, old music, and talking at great length with Holly about the past…the distant past, before Uni. My old friendship group from Sixth Form are on Facebook, living their lives, almost graduated. My brother is also on Facebook, talking about his days in the Sixth Form. Those days seem so long ago now, even though they’re fairly well chronicled in this very journal. Long before then, too, back to the earlier part of secondary school. The relationships I had. The way I was. It’s funny how clear things become so much later. I can look back, see what I was doing wrong. I can tell myself I ought to have done this or that, and I shudder at some of the things I did do. I look back, and tell myself that this person or that person could be a very dear friend, if only I opened up. Ah, well, I was pretty closed-up instead, and yet still dreaming of so many things, so long ago.

It always goes this way, though. Hindsight makes things so much clearer. There are so many other things to take into account too. Everyone changes. The friend who you only made late in your school life may not have been a friend in the earlier part. Put yourself back in that situation, and your clear realisations made from a distance suddenly become much harder to put into practise. Lastly, like it or not, had things been different, you would not be here right now…a different ‘you’ would be, with different memories, different experiences, different regrets. I’m not happy about who I was eight years ago, but that’s how things were, and they cannot be changed. Look to the past. Missed opportunities there will always be. In my case, gender comes into it quite heavily, and as I’m gradually unfolding, I’m seeing that more clearly. However, nobody can say they had a problem-free time. No-one can testify to having no regrets at all. There are thousands of ways to live a life, but you only live once (and if you believe in reincarnation, you don’t live the same life twice).

I’m really quite the wicker basket, overflowing with memories, nostalgia, and the past. As I’ve said before, the combination of my photographic memory, and my tendency to feel things very deeply, means that I can delve into how things were, and glide through the ripples of days long past. When I looked back on my five years of Livejournal, I realised how life really is a story. You never see it day to day, because it’s on a bigger scale, but skip back two years, then skip a year on…for some reason, this time of year reminds me of that.

I love to live the past…but it cannot dominate the present. The story’s not finished yet, afterall.