Friday, June 22, 2007

When I was 25

This was started as a writing prompt and is a powerful memory stirrer. I read Charlotte's post, which set me off reminiscing, finding some similarities and many differences in our experiences. Then even though I've already posted once today, I had to follow through, write and post before the memories faded and my 25 year old self disappeared back into the mists of time.

When I was 25, I turned my back on the full-time office job, with the travel company I was working for, and returned to the itinerant nature of tour managing, travelling with the clients on their walking holidays in Italy. I'd done one season and then accepted the office job at the end of it, which I'd coped with reasonably well over the winter months. When spring came and the other Tour Staff flew off to sunnier climes and Italian food, I chafed under the demands of office life and decided that I wasn't cut out for it after all. The decision was a huge relief and as I turned 25 I headed back to Italy to breathe the aromas of Tuscan cooking once more.

When I was 25, I had the confidence to meet a group of unknown clients at the airport and drive them off in to the countryside, with the enjoyment of their holiday entrusted into my hands. I always had pre-trip nerves, like stage fright, especially being a shy person, but I did it over and over again. I'm glad I was that person then as it gives me a memory of that ability to cope and trust in myself, to refer to now if ever I doubt my abilities.

When I was 25, I thought nothing of driving from Pisa to Oxford in 24 hours on my own in a Landrover, driving through the night on the French autoroute, sustained by Pocket Coffees (chocolates with a whole espresso concentrated into its liquid centre) with a cargo of Italian cheeses and a whole ham, unsure whether this was a legitimate import or not but driving through the Nothing to Declare at Dover anyway.

When I was 25, I had my first (and only, fingers crossed) car crash, when a new driver swerved across the road into me, writing off my beautiful butter-coloured Peugeot 205, breaking a bone in my foot and my nose and wrecking beyond redemption a beautiful soft scarf in the autumn colours of the Tuscan hills, that I'd bought in Italy. It left me with my foot in plaster for a month, back home revisiting the comfort of child-like dependance, with my mother in attendance, and appreciating the convenience of fully comp. insurance.

When I was 25, I thought I'd better catch up with my friends on the property ladder and bought a flat with a friend in London. That is where I'd been off to at the time of the car crash. Due to being immobilised for the whole month of February, I left all the house-hunting to my friend and, as time was running out before the season would be sending me off to Italy again, I found myself, without much thought on my part, a North Londoner in Willesden Green, when by inclination I subsequently discovered myself to be a South Londoner - and there is a cultural difference that goes with the divide of the Thames! I indulged myself by buying my first ever bed, double of course, even though there was no-one to put in the other side, with a wonderful pocket-sprung mattress, which has survived to this day, but is now our spare bed. The flat ended up being merely a base to return to after my stints in Italy, a winter perching place, and I got to know all the routes to South London very well!

25 was a time of being young, free and single, when my earnings could be spent on myself, and although they weren't huge, I could afford to trawl the London markets and sales for frivolous items of furniture, ridiculous clothes and bric a brac. In between intense periods of work I had cavernous spaces of free time to spend at the Everyman Cinema watching old Italian movies, explore London and read.

When I was 25, I was still five years from getting married and three years away from finding the right man, so there was an empty space, or rather, a sense of circling looking for the direction I was supposed to be heading in, I was marking time, knowing that I wanted to marry and have children one day, but not knowing what to do in the meantime, apart from experience life as it presented itself. Maybe I could have relaxed and enjoyed it more if I could have looked forward five years, but that tension of uncertainity is all part of life's rich tapestry!


  1. What a lovely vision of you, driving through the night, buying beautiful objets and delicious foods, and waiting for the right man to arrive. I love this post.

    I also enjoyed the belly-dancing one. How are the abs bearing up?

  2. How lovely it all sounds!

    I liked being 25 too, though my life was not quite so glamorous. I was doing the coursework for my doctoral program, taking a course on Race Theory in Victorian Literature that had that electrifying effect of changing the way I've seen everything ever since. And I was hanging out with friends who cared a LOT about wearing the right clothes, which had a bad effect on my confidence. I was married to the wrong man and three years away from meeting the right one.

  3. what a lovely life! and i love all the exploration and discovery--italy and london and all! though i am sorry for your broken foot and nose.

  4. Oh how wonderful that sounds. I don't think I actually appreciated the freedom I had at 25. I had just changed jobs to my first proper salaried job (as opposed to beign self-employed) and was with a boyfriend which seemed very serious at the time, so I felt quite tied down. If somebody had told me where I would be today I would have laughed my head off and called them crazy ;-)


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