A few weeks ago, maybe a week or two before Christmas, I sat in the car outside my former high school and waited. I was there for half an hour, maybe for slightly less, waiting in the car for 3:00pm when I would walk down the path, cross the road and stand at the end of the bus bay to pick my brother up. This is something of a routine that the two of us have - every Friday I have the day off and since May I've been picking him up on a Friday afternoon. Sometimes, something significant happens, but mostly I just collect him and drive us home.
This particular Friday, we walked past the front of school like we always do and past one of the bus queues. Even now I still feel very odd walking past that queue, because back when I was at school I would spend ages waiting with friends while they waited for their buses, even though I actually walked home. Without being too specific, this Friday I happened to have a brief conversation with somebody in the queue. And it's funny, because I left that school in May 2010 but they never seem to stop caring or wondering how things are going. We chatted a bit about how university is going and, for the first time, I voiced my intention to change degree programme. I don't really know why, but I did. It felt safe, I suppose. It felt like the little bubble you're in at school was still somehow protecting me from all of the problems and confusion of the weeks leading up to that one, seemingly insignificant moment.
But it wasn't insignificant...
On the surface, "well, I didn't get joint honours either, I started out doing it though..." was just storytelling, I'm sure, but in the midst of doctors appointments, scary conversations with my personal tutor, that one morning sitting in a waiting room for what felt like hours and holding things back, that one little story told me it's OK. It's OK to change. It's OK to make decisions like that. It's OK to do something different.
While I was sitting in the car, I was listening to a new song by my favourite musician on repeat, increasing the volume a little with every play. It cleansed me, that afternoon. It reminded me that no matter where you go, the people who stood by you all along will still be there, whether it's in person or through the lessons they teach you.
I kind of hid away over Christmas. I put off replying to an important email because I just couldn't find it within myself to finally admit defeat and then I was so ill that I didn't leave my bed for days. I think I'm just about pulling myself back into normality. I replied to that email and I had a 'good' appointment this morning. They're baby steps, but they're better than no steps at all...
And the song I took the title for this post from, it's beautiful and it continues to cleanse me. The storm is ongoing but I'm no longer afraid.