I went up to my parents to finish clearing out their garage. They have a huge garage that you can fit 3 cars into. Well you could, except for that fact that the entire contents of our old house and all my childhood things are currently residing there. This would probably be OK if it was organised. But as the years rolled by we put item after item in there, never bothering to catalogue it properly. We always said, 'Oh I'll come back to that.' But 'that' was soon buried under yet more items and was quickly forgotten.
So my Dad finally decided enough was enough and he wanted the garage back to it's original function - that of an organised dumping ground. Well, that and the fact that the cat had peed on some of my old clothes and the stench was horrific. Or, at least, that's what he told me. Until I realised, while sorting through the suspect items, that a mouse/hamster/furry thing that used to be alive had chosen here as it's final resting place.
I'd have rather had the cat pee.
But, when going through the boxes/ bags/ heap of junk I found a few items I'd totally forgotten about. One was a shallow box. I took the lid off, expecting to see some broken ornaments. But inside were some cards. I opened them up and realised they were 'goodbye' cards addressed to me from some of my friends in England.
The story behind that is that when I was 14, my dad got a job in London, so we moved over to Buckinghamshire. But we all hated it. NI is a very friendly place, everyone talks to everyone else. You say hello to people walking down the street. But England, or in particular London, isn't. I know I'm generalising, but people tend to keep themselves to themselves and can appear to be quite stuffy because of this. And when you're used to talking to everyone, this is a bit of a culture shock. And if you tried to speak to people you didn't know they looked at you as if you were crazy. It's not necessarily bad, just a totally different way of life, one we're not used to. You're very anonymous there.
However, in school I made some very good friends (and even a boyfriend) and when we decided to move back home to NI I was genuinely upset to be leaving them. But they had all written cards and given me presents which was very sweet. I kept in touch for a while, but, as happens, life moved on. And eventually those cards which I had treasured were relegated to the garage.
I rarely think about the time we had in England, it's like a distant memory. Although at the time I didn't enjoy a lot of it I'm glad to have had the experience. Finding those cards today made me smile, feel very nostalgic, and, if I'm honest, a little bit sad that perhaps I don't think about old friends as much as I should.