In my mid 30’s, following my divorce, I moved to Harrogate where, initially, I had some very unhappy times. It was the late 1970’s and behind the town’s genteel facade, there was a small environmental, community arts and music scene which I got involved in. They were formative years for me during which I brought up my children and tried to do something with my life. What I did there has led me to where I am today and I now have fonder memories of both the times and the place.
So much so that, just occasionally, I get an overpowering feeling of wanting to be back. It is, in fact, more than just a feeling, it’s a deep need. It’s something I can’t explain except to say that, for just a short while, I really do need to be there and not where I am now. Anyway, the feeling passes and I return to the present to continue the more contented and productive life I now lead. And, perhaps, my problem lies in those feelings of greater contentment. They have taken me years to get used to and, to be honest, I’m still not there; perhaps that’s what still drives me.
I go back to Harrogate every six weeks or so to see those children and their children; my grandchildren and still feel torn when I leave. Well, Gaynor and I have just got back from a five day visit during which I had an even stronger feeling about the past. This wasn’t just déjà vu but a real replaying of an old film in my head. Only this time I really was there, in 1979. In those days, my children, Tracey and Matt, used to play out with their mates a lot. In fact, we all remember that, during the summer, they were always out just coming home when they were hungry.
Well, last week I was staying with Matt, who now has custody of his son, Michael, and, I feel, that it has been the making of both of them. When I got there, I asked Matt where Michael was to be told that he was out with his mates. A while later, the door opened and in came Michael, now 13 himself, with his mates. “Hi, grandad”. “Hello, Michael”. He wasn’t in the house long and they all left. With a “Bye, grandad”, he waved. “Bye, Michael” as I waved back. The latter accompanied with me, literally, being that parent from 36 years ago watching my son and his mates troop out. Accompanied by a feeling of, somewhat, bemused pride. Bemusement from the fact that I wasn’t needed as much but with pride that my children took my being there for granted. My son, I know, feels exactly the same way.