Isn’t association a weird thing? Association in the sense that when you experience something unpleasant, traumatic or that made you unhappy or caused you pain – things, items, places that remind you of what you felt or went through, become something to avoid. To part company with. Forget.
After Oscar was born, I wanted rid of many of the things that I had taken into hospital with me for the event of giving birth. I don’t mean lifelong possessions, more like the things that I had bought specifically for going into hospital. Slippers. Pajamas. Underwear. Toiletries. And especially, the polka dot night dress that I wore for the duration of the labour. I didn’t want any of it. In fact – the majority of those things were binned before I was even discharged from the delivery ward. After a three day induction and difficult labour, I really just didn’t want anything near me – in terms of material goods – that reminded me of what I had been through. One pair of PJ’s still had their tags on, they were brand new, so I took them home. But in less than a week they were stuffed into the wheelie bin outside our flat. Mentally, they took me right back to that hospital ward. They made me feel anxious and I wanted them out of my sight. And as I write this, and recall those blameless and actually rather lovely pajamas, I can feel a little tightening in my chest, as if the very thought of them takes me right back there too.
Yesterday, James, Oscar and I took a trip to Golden Acre Park in Leeds. We’ve been actively avoiding it since our last, and only visit in February 2012. At that point, we had been residents of Yorkshire for approximately four weeks. We had moved to Leeds from Cardiff for a job. My job. I was having a career change, and we’d claimed we were happy to relocate to anywhere in the UK to make that change a reality. The actual reality? We were Miserable. With a capital M. I had my career change. But James didn’t have a job. We had rented a flat we despised, in an area of Leeds we disliked. A lot. We had no friends. No family near us. What had we done?!
Golden Acre Park was probably the first touristy thing if you will, that we did in those early days. It was a chilly, blue-skied winter’s day and I remember thinking the park was nice enough at the time. Yet since then I’ve had a really negative view of it as a place to visit. It’s come up in countless conversations as a potential place to go at weekends when we’ve had the ‘what shall we do today?’ talk – and every time I’ve dismissed it. Insisted I don’t like it. Two weeks ago, I distinctly remember saying to James: “It’s crap. I’ve got no interest in going there again.”
When yesterday we had the ‘what shall we do?’ and ‘where should we go?’ chat, James again suggested we give it another try. I said I’d rather not. He then googled photos of the park. I had to admit, it looked pretty lovely. Nicer than the memory I had forged in my mind. So we went. And it was bloody beautiful.
We had a gorgeous day! And it hit me. It was the association with that time in our life, which had clouded my opinion of what is actually a great place to while away a few hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The last time we went there we were reallllllllly unhappy. We felt like we’d made a mistake moving to Leeds, and as a result made many a rash comment about the city which was now our home. The word hate was even banded about. “I hate it here” – I would say at some point each week for at least the first six months. Of course Leeds wasn’t the problem. I love Leeds. It is a cool and brilliant city to live in, and now that I’m happy here, settled here, have friends and a life and my own family here, I can see that. I could see it then too, but I guess subconsciously it was easier to blame our Miserable faces on place, rather than circumstance.
- Have you distanced yourself from somewhere or something because it reminds you of a time you’d rather not dwell on? What have you parted company with or actively avoided down to association? I’d be really interested to hear about it in the comments below.
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