Thursday, 10 February 2011
The School Reunion
Ive decided to start at the local park, this where I had some happy memories of lunchtimes in the summer eating chips out of the bag with close friends. The park hasn't changed at all, the green painted fence still rings the perimeters, the swings and slides still look as shabby as they did when we used them all those years ago, the red and blue paint peels away in lumps, the plastic seats still hang by rusty chains above them, I move over to the hut where we used to smoke our fags and talk. The green bench still has the graffiti we carved into it, the corners still smell of urine. Its nice to see somethings never change. We used to sit here and chat about the girls we liked and the ones we wanted to go further with. Young lads all bragging about who had done what to whom, whilst knowing deep down it was all lies. Half the time we were too scared to even talk to them let alone do what we had said we had done. Fond memories come rushing back. I watch people walking past, not noticing me at all, lost in their own worlds of conversations and gossip, couples holding hands, mums pushing buggies, an old couple wander past coats done up even though the sun is shining.
After a while I decide its time to go back to my old home. The place I grew up. The house hasn't changed either. The privet hedge is still there in the garden, the grass is neatly cut and a deep green colour, the rose bush still stands by the porch in bloom with bright red roses, other flowers of all colours decorate the borders before the concrete path leads to the front door. The house, still painted a bright white, stands out against the brown window sills that adjourn all of the windows. The porch I slept in when I got locked out by my Dad is still there as well. A large pot plant sits in the corner, I think its supposed to be full of green leaves but most of them have gone brown. I look up and see the bay window that used to be my Mum and Dads room the net curtains hanging down to the bottom of the window. The smaller window at the front used to be my sisters room. I remember her looking out of it, waiting for me to come home from school and waving madly when she saw me. My room was at the back of the house and unfortunately I cant see it, but I'm happy looking at the house that was home for many years. I was happy here, I grew up here.
I move down the street and turn right approaching the shops where I used to do my paper round. No matter what the weather we used to deliver those papers. Wind, snow, rain we loved it all of us. A group of young boys spending our money on the Saturday we got paid on sweets and magazines, talking to the owner and helping out when we could. It was a lot of fun. Well apart from Sundays when the supplements were in the papers and it took us twice as long to deliver them. We used to have to take half a bag as it was so heavy. Sometimes my Dad would park the car around the corner and help. I see the chip shop where I first tasted a Kebab, and went back for many more, and the Chinese where I used to go after trips to the pub on a Friday night. The shops have new names above them, the owners have sold up and moved away, like so much that I remember its gone now. Time waits for no one I suppose, sad but true. The sun is starting to go down and its nearly time for the reason I'm here, the reunion.
I make my way to the hall where its taking place, keeping a distance when I arrive, watching familiar faces, faces I haven't seen for many years, they look older but I recognise them all. I wait until there is no one in the car park, to nervous to make my way inside too soon after all its been many, many years. 80's music blares out from the hall, I can see the brightly coloured disco lights flashing away and the noise of people talking echoing around the hallway. I make my way to the bar and stand there at the end, not ordering a drink yet just soaking up the atmosphere, watching people greet each other with hugs and smiles. Others calling out nicknames across the room, and grown men hugging each other and back slapping, broad smiles adorn their faces The atmosphere is relaxed, the beats of the music flowing through me, beer and wine flowing through others. I'm glad I came.
Except no one knows I'm here as I stand at the bar all alone. I stand there watching them all so happy, pleased to meet the friends they left behind. Some are married with kids, some divorced and I'm jealous of them. Jealous because I didn't get to be the age that they are. You see I died many years ago, a fight that went badly wrong. A stupid argument outside a nightclub, a fight I thought I could win, how wrong I was. I wander around these old haunts on a regular basis, a huge sadness fills me knowing that I will never be the age they are, experience the things that they have. Such sorrow I have left behind. A family that mourns me even now. I am but a ghost left wandering around the places I used to know.