Haneen

Is it wrong for a city to invoke such strong feelings inside me? I’m serious by the way. I feel towards London when I “see it” as tho I’m seeing someone I forgot I love so desperately, and I am shocked by the realisation that I was able to live without him. Her? Is London a ‘him’ or a ‘her’? And why am I not living here? 

I’m lying awake in the bed in this hotel off Marylebone high staring out the window feeling right at home. How do I not live here? 

I’m reading a book by Liane Moriarty called what Alice forgot. Alice, the hero of our story, falls and bumps her head badly. This results in her forgetting the last 10 years of her life. She wakes up thinking she 29, newlywed and pregnant with her first child only to find out she’s 39, has 3 children and her marriage is ending. 

It’s funny that I sit reading this book here now in London because 10 years ago I was living in London with my husband and two young children. 10 years before that I had just moved to London to study. In some way. coming back to London so sporadically in the last few years and ending up here, not in the summertime but mid-year, makes me feel like I have time travelled. 

In this book, Alice the protagonist doesn’t recognise the person 10 years of life has made her. And when looking at her 39-year-old self with her 29-year-old eyes she’s not impressed. The thought of that happening to me, forgetting all that happened the last 10 years, scares the hell out of me. Oh God… No. No no no. We worked hard Bessy and we’re not going to go all the way back there thank you very much.

I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t want to undo all that I have done. I know there are ups and downs but in general, I am heading in the right direction. Of course, this could be the old, jaded, cynical and horrible ‘now’ me suppressing the bright, young, better ‘then’ me. But I’ll never know now will I.

No… No no no. We are not going back. I mean I wouldn’t even get my 10 years younger body! Just the 10 years younger memories. And can you imagine the shock of what 3 more children have done here! Poor, oblivouse 10 years younger me.

So what was so wrong with me 10 years ago? I was so stuck in my head I really couldn’t clearly see the world around me. I was wound up so tightly it was a danger to stand too close to me lest one of my strings pop lose and you lose and eye. I was so unhealthy and didn’t care! Now I have the decency to feel guilty when I am being unhealthy. Not just be unhealthy willy-nilly with no residual guilt! I was more angry at the world. Ironically there is a lot more to be angry about now but I am a lot less angry.

You know what I would consider? I would go back 10 years with the memories I have now. (I am immediately struck with all the heartaches that have happened in the last 10 years when I write this… And I still can say I would consider it. At least I will be ready for it.)

How would you feel about going back to the way you used to be 10 years ago? Were you more relaxed? Happier? a mess? Is there anything you could learn from you 10 year younger self? Would you consider reliving the last 10 years of your life with the memories you have now? 

*Haneen is an Arabic word meaning nostalgia, longing for the past. 

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