Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Turning Points


This is a school photo from summer 1976 (old secondary school 1st year = new year 7, except in my day it was UIII alpha). I was twelve, I guess. Which one am I?* I'll tell you at the end ...

Why am I posting this? Because over recent months, the past seems to be hitting me from all sides. On facebook recently, there's been a group set up for my old school and it's been fascinating poring over old pictures that I've never seen before. Who knew that there were air-raid shelters under the garden? Apparently everybody else did but I don't remember it at all. There are even photos from the 1950s and 1960s. Is it strange that my memory focusses in more on the strange man caught in the girls' cloakroom one summer's afternoon?

School-days weren't the best days of my life. I was quite bright as a kid and won a scholarship to a private school. In retrospect, it wasn't the best move I ever made - I suspect I'd have been far happier at the grammar school with my primary school friends, but there you go. What's odd though is that while I've made contact with quite a few people I knew from school, virtually none of my actual peer group has made an appearance - the girls I was closest to, who I partied with and socialised with out of school. I'd love to know where they are now and what they are doing.

And there are other people I've caught up with lately. People from university days; friends and boyfriends - people who haven't changed in my mind since the last day I saw or spoke to them and are now older (and probably greyer like me), with families and lives. It's fascinating to catch up with them again, and scary as I realise how much we all change and grow older.

At what point in life do you start looking backwards more often than you look forwards? Is that turning point the moment when you become "old"? I'll be fifty next year and that seems like a milestone of sorts. I don't feel old and people tell me I don't look my age. But there comes a point in your life when you realise that there are things you'll never do - from a world of possibilities as a teenager, I now know I'm never going to be an astronaut, become prime minister or marry into royalty. I'll never be a dancer on Top of The Pops or be a famous scientist/engineer/whatever. Not that I necessarily wanted any of those things, but they were possibilities that no longer exist for me.

That all sounds sad and yet it isn't at all. The world narrows as you grow up and yet it's also richer - where would I be without my wonderful husband and utterly gorgeously talented sixteen year-old daughter? It's something I tell her constantly - that you can be whoever you want to be and achieve anything,so long as you are prepared to work hard for it. There are still things to dream of, things to aim for - in my life and hers.

* I'm the one in the yellow dress. Even then, I liked to be different...

5 comments:

Gill said...

I can relate to this, having recently caught up with my 'old' friends and quite thrilled about it, amazed at how we bond and how easy it is to be with them all. Personally I refuse to grow old and am still striving to grow up. It's a comfortable feeling a bit like wearing a yellow dress!

Mandy said...

I too can relate to this. My friends from my boarding school days are my honorary sisters. Those I was in the same house and year have all kept in touch but with the reach of Facebook I have made contact with so many "girls" from my era both older and younger. This would not have happened with out FB and the desire to look back and remember......I think this happens when we see ourselves in our children......they still have all those possibilities where as I have only dreams of what could have been. I'd not change a thing though, I'm content :)

clarelouise96 said...

Love you mum <3

Amanda said...

Oh I love this photo debbie! And we were definitely at the same school! I like Gill and Mandy have hooked up with some old girls..via FB and other sites and even met up on several occasions with some ..memories are strange aren't they? some things just strike you as 'worth' remembering..and others, whilst seeming so important to another..might be completely lost by you! Do you know what I mean? I have loved reuniting with older & younger... all those memories...seen through different eyes..Yes 50 is a milestone..I am a little older..but looking back isn't such a bad thing is it? Back to a less complicated time? Indeed, impressing on my 2 sons that they can achieve anything if they work hard enough..but isn't that something you learn as you mature? Not so sure the young really appreciate the sentiment...I so wish I had..

Debbie said...

I have to admit, my daughter is the most ambitious, hard-working and tenacious teenager I have ever known! She's known what she wants to do with her life from an early age and has gone all-out to get it.