A big part of me blamed Lancaster for last year. I associated it with sadness, loneliness and pain when it really did nothing to deserve it (except rain a lot.) When I returned down south for holidays or long weekends, I clung to home and became very fearful of travelling up north again back to that place. One journey (I had been worrying about it for days) I became more ill and uncomfortable the further north I got – eyes watering in pain as I got into Lancaster again. It was a very physical sign of fear and overwhelm. Not just the workings of an insane woman.
When I graduated, I bid Lancaster farewell – not as fearful of it, but the association still deeply ingrained.
This time was different. I played out the best possible scenario of the weekend in my head, deciding it was definitely achievable. I drew on the train in watercolour pencil, which further set my mind at rest.
As my train rolled into Lancaster station, I looked around in nostalgia (probably helped by the lack of rain!). I walked down the hil into town and saw that the market was on, packed with people selling their wares. I remembered happy visits in first and second years, tasting the variety of food available, stocking up on fresh vegetables, checking out the brick a brack of soap, scarves, jewellry, old books… dog treats…
Walking up the hill towards my friends house, I passed a restaurant we had visited to celebrate the end of exams in second year, the town hall, the cathedral and the memorial. Genuinely happy to be back.
That evening I visited my old friends, the same crowd that stuck together throughout the three years of university. Things clicked into place again and it felt like we had never been apart, despite me being fairly vacant for months last year.
We went out to the same club we frequented so many times over the years. I didnt drink a drop of alcohol but I bounced around, giddy to be surrounded by these people again in this familiar place. I made myself believe before we set off that it would be okay, and it was!
On arriving home again I was greeted by some very sad news. I’ve had a victory this week though, I took back Lancaster!