Is it wicked to take a pleasure in Spring and other seasonal changes? To put it more precisely, is it politically reprehensible, while we are all groaning, or at any rate ought to be groaning, under the shackles of the capitalist system, to point out that life is frequently more worth living because of a blackbird’s song, a yellow elm tree in October, or some other natural phenomenon which does not cost money and does not have what the editors of left-wing newspapers call a class angle? -George Orwell, Some Thoughts On the Common Toad
All through February I carried with me a sense of loss. I thought about the spring to come, and my body ached with the knowledge that I was going to spend it in a place that wasn’t home. I tried my best to not let the feeling absorb me. I am happy here. Spring is still spring, I wrote in my diary. I’m not sure if I believed it. I yearned for the neighbourhood where I grew up and I thought about the peach and cherry trees that would bloom while I was away. Walking through a grey, wintry Glasgow I imagined how it would look coated in Spring, what it would feel like to see the green unfold before my eyes. I wondered which parts would be the prettiest in their new attire, which places would be my favourites. Which trees, now brown, naked and dry like every other, would one day transform into yellow or pink or white. I tried not to think about how no new places, no peaceful tucked away corner of greenery could ever be like the ones I left behind. If I found a cherry tree to sit beneath, it would not matter how beautiful it was, it would not carry any meaning. It would not be a tree I’ve known all my life. I would not love it and it would probably not love me back.
On the phone my dad said “For the first time in your life you will experience another spring. It might be the same, it might be different, but I’m sure it will be really special.” His words cheered me up, but however much I longed for this spring to finally catch up with Glasgow, to cradle the city in its arms and breathe its mild exhale into its streets and lanes and corners until it softened and thawed, I couldn’t think of anything but home. Maybe the passing of seasons will always be the hardest when the place you live in doesn’t yet feel like home. Autumn was difficult too. When the summer leaves turned orange and red in October, I felt weak. My family sent me pictures, and I could not believe the woods I knew were changing colours without me. Like it entered a new stage of life and I was no longer a necessary part of it. Like I could disappear, move away, exist hundreds of miles away and Autumn would come in a blink like it always had. I wanted with all my heart to believe that the landscape ached for me, that it too felt that something was different this time, but the truth was that when I left, the trees didn’t seem to mind at all. Maybe they forgot me the day I got on that plane. Maybe they waved their leaves at me as I was in the sky to say goodbye.
I wonder how my February self would react if I told her that she would, after all, spend the spring at home. I miss my Glasgow life, I dream of it almost every night, but the spring landscape here has become my refuge. It seems like every time I look at it anew, something has changed, as if a few dandelions are born every time I take a breath. I am mesmerised as I watch it evolve. My allergies get bad when I am outside, but I don’t see an alternative. My eyes run and itch, and sometimes when I’ve touched grass, the skin on my palms gets sore, like a sunburn, but I don’t mind the sensation; It makes me feel like I still have some contact with the outside world, I am reminded that it can still leave marks on me. This never happened to my skin before and I wonder if my hands are different this spring, and if that means I am different too. Maybe my hands are rough from all the hand washing. Or maybe they have become unused to touching things.
I lose myself in spring this year. I marvel in the colours and I thank the sun for making it easier to leave my bed. I am thankful that this did not happen in November. Even though the world is chaos I feel blessed to experience a spring like the ones I grew up with. In February I was scared of the new feelings a Glasgow spring would bring, but now I look forward to it, and I hope that next year maybe I’ll be ready.
[Matilda Eker – she/her – @systematiskttvivel]
[Photo credit: Rosie Bruce]
The rest of the pieces from the theme of Nostalgia can be found here.