the roads we didn’t take

Driving north today, I saw the signs for Durham and felt the old tug. I left something of me behind in that city of cobbles and cloisters. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so happy, or sad, or mad, before or since.

I had a fleeting, but overwhelming urge to veer off up that sliproad, and down into the misty city, to wander the shadowy streets of time past, searching for ghosts of myself.

I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised to bump into 22 year old me, striding across Prebends bridge. I almost (too much Dr Who, yeah…) believe that roaming somewhere out there is another 37 year old me, one who made a different choice at some critical moment, and is living an entirely different life. I thought maybe I’d find her there, in one of my old spots, admiring the view. I wondered if she’d have a camera in hand too, or a pencil, pen, or brush. Or maybe she’d stopped noticing the view, long ago.

We would have gone off for tea and cake together, caught up on everything that had happened to each other over the last 15 years, then said goodbye and gone our own separate ways.

But I stayed in the present, and drove on up the A1 to admire an angel’s angles. Because I’d always wanted to, but somehow never had. And the best time to do things is always today…


*The Angel was never part of My North. He** appeared while I was in Nepal, and I only ever lived in Durham for a few more months after that.

** He’s definitely male, in my head. T says, of course she isn’t. We may have to agree to differ on this one.



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7 responses to “the roads we didn’t take

  1. In my head the angel is….. erm….. entirely androgynous. Which surprises me.

    The best time to do things is definitely always today. I was texting someone else about having several different ‘selves’ earlier – and having read your post I now wonder if all those different versions of me, living in my head, are the different versions that would have emerged to the outside world’s view, if I’d made different choices.

    How do we choose which one to be? Or are we just a mixture of them all, anyway? I appear to be in pondering mode. Which is probably a good sign as I haven’t felt able to ponder for quite some time. Thank you.

  2. Sadly, I’m afraid, we wouldn’t run into our alternate selves (“To know what would have happened? Nobody is ever told that!”) but I often wonder who I would have become had the people who befriended me in Paris been drug addicts or radical lesbians rather than evangelical Christians!

  3. katherinea

    That angle makes the Angel (see me avoiding choosing a pronoun) look a lot more interesting than usual.

  4. jo

    Gender NOS .. always the ones I fall hardest for 😉

  5. We used to drive past the Angel when my sister lived in Newcastle and always said we would stop and never did…now she doesn’t live there anymore and I can regret a pause not made.

    I’ve always thought of the Angel as male, although I’m not sure why.

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