Leaving Spain behind for a few weeks, I (Aannsha) set out for the UK on a Jet2 plane after driving (on the opposite side of the road that I'm used to) a manual hire car to Alicante airport.
The whole journey proved to be a pleasant trip. Helped by a station master at Liverpool Lime Street who lugged my case down umpteen stairs to the Liverpool underground train, I eventually arrived at my sister Judi's home around 8.30pm on the Thursday before Christmas. I felt all at once happy and relieved to see Judi after four and a half years, and also a bit awkward, as she treated me like an important guest and insisted I sleep in her bed while she hunkered down on a bouncy blow up mattress on the lounge floor. But knowing it was futile arguing with the only female I’ve ever known who is more stubborn than I am, I accepted, perhaps a bit less graciously than I could have. Why was I feeling so at odds with my sister and my cozy surroundings? It upset me to think I was being so tetchy when Judi was trying so hard to make me feel at home and after I’d been so looking forward to seeing her. After a plaintive text with Liz my good school friend who I touched base with on landing in the UK, I realised I was tired. Not just from the fairly lengthy journey from Javea in Spain to Bebington on the Wirral peninsula in the UK, but also from the massive changes that I'd allowed to blow like a hurricane through my life over the recent weeks. My life felt as if it had been ripped out of the ground and I was blowing like a leaf on an unpredictable wind that currently found me in the North West of England. This was my birth home and the part of the world where I’d lived for 29 years. Why did I feel like an alien in unfamiliar territory?
On reflection that first night and some time into the wee hours of the morning, when my body clock decided I should be awake as it was still running on Australian time, I considered that it was probably because in the 27 years that I'd lived in Australia, I had changed. While my values are the same, life experiences and living in a different culture, have allowed me to grow and relax into who I am now. Some of the difficulty with Judi was that I was trying to be the young me that she remembered. While young me had been fiery, she had operated out of the same English social norms as everyone else in the UK, and with an accommodating fluidity that fitted in with everyone. This visit saw me changed into being more fixed in my responses which stemmed from needing to be more authentic, rather than politely fitting in. Once I realised this was an inner dilemma, I let it go and got on with simply enjoying my time with my big sister. (I smile affectionately at that because, while she’s older than me, she is a tad shorter, and definitely the slim one out of the two of us.)
As I write this blog, I’m travelling North on a Cross Pennine train on the way to see relatives in Scotland.
I have very fond memories of the last five days I spent with Judi and look forward to spending time with her again when I return to the Wirral. After the initial discord, we enjoyed swapping memories, and I valued every moment with her. She is so upbeat and has a deeply caring nature sprinkled with a great sense of humour. During my time with Judi I have remembered that time and life’s experiences change us and at this point I want to say for the record that I think Judi is an awesomely strong woman who has accomplished so much through her own health challenges. We change yes, but we still carry our DNA which is the physical platform that defines us. However epigenetic research shows that our DNA can be changed and so I wonder how much of who I am now ... who you, reader, are ... is in part DNA, plus the sum total of life’s experiences and how we adapt our mindset and beliefs as we grow. And how much of it is determined by our spirit, the illusive part of us that we point to in our heart when we say “I am me”. I do feel this UK journey is a pilgrimage of sorts into my past. I’m about to meet more of my family now. The Scottish branch. I wonder what rich inner pearls that will reveal?