It is incredible how one single moment can turn everything around when you are in the midst of sadness and despair.
I’ve had a lot of instances in my life where I have felt like just giving up, either through bad life choices, laziness, tiredness or simply because the task ahead seems too difficult to undertake, and some small gesture or word from someone, in a single moment, has done just that. Snapped me out of whatever brooding mood I was in.
I could write about them for hours and bore you all to sadness and despair, however, I’m going to mention one moment in time from many, many years ago. I was seventeen, studying at sixth form and thoroughly pissed off with how my life was panning out.
I was having a torrid time at school, really struggling with my studies, and being at a new school I didn’t know where to turn to or who to talk to. Not that I would have anyway, I was a teenager after all. Also at this time I had split up with the first real love of my life (oh the woes of teenage emotions) and coupled with the grief at school and not really knowing what to do I decided I was going to bunk off.
I spent a whole week in February getting the bus in the morning, traipsing around the city all day and getting the bus home at my regular time. However, the week I chose to do this we had one of those snowfalls in the East of England we barely see these days.
I remember it being a Tuesday and I spent the whole of that day walking around and around in the freezing cold, wandering in and out of the shops to keep warm but mostly walking around listening to Suzanne Vega’s Small Blue Thing over and over on my walkman, feeling particularly wretched and miserable, lost in the misery of my teenage angst. When completely out of the blue someone asked me if I was alright. I’d seen him a couple of times during the day as I traipsed the streets, and they had obviously clocked me a couple of times as well.
I remember after that not feeling quite so bad, not enough to stop skiving for the rest of the week, which, incidentally, I got an almighty bollocking for when I was found out, but enough for me to realise that things are rarely as bad as they seem, especially when you’re seventeen and you’re a bundle of teenage emotions.
It’s a day that has always stuck with me, the week is blur, as indeed is most of the months and years following, but that particular day in the cold and wet of the streets of Norwich with Suzanne Vega singing in my ears, has endured in my memory thanks to the kind words of a stranger.
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