This weekend I took a road trip to my hometown to spend some time with family + friends, and squidge my toes in the place they belong.
On the way I had a couple of hours to myself without any plans, and with a spontaneous flick of the indicator switch, I turned into the place I grew up. The place that holds and created all of my earliest childhood memories, right up until I moved out of home aged twenty one.
I spent a little time going back to visit my mum, until she herself moved too a few years later, and then I had no real reason to return again.
They say when you move away nothing changes, that it all stays exactly the same.
And it was. Everything was right where I left it, 10+ years ago. And yet, at the same time, it was different.
Subtle changes in the reality my mind kept safe. Houses painted fresh new - different - colours. Not all, just a handful here and there.
New fences erected, creating places now out of bounds that my young feet had spent years wandering, exploring and playing.
Houses had 'popped' up here and there, creating distortions in the landscape I knew so well.
Grassy fields I'd walked across on my way to school now uncrossable, having become home to dozens of trees. Fully grown rooted trees.
Yes it was all the same, and yet not the same at all. I was a stranger amongst the familiar.
Those hours spent wandering again freely through the now strange familiar reminded me how much I'd grown too. Seeing which parts had altered, or even changed altogether.
From the girl I was then to the woman I am now.
I'm not sure the girl in me ever had any real plans or thoughts about the type of woman she'd maybe one day become. I wish I could go back and tell her to think about it some more, about who she really wants to 'be', because let's just say some life decisions would have been very different.
And yet, her I am now - made up of ever single experience I’ve lived to date.
Have I messed up more times than I every really wanted? Sure. Heck, there's probably still a few more to come yet.
Yet despite those bumps and wrong turns, can I say I’m proud of the woman I look at in the mirror now..?
Honestly, I'd say I'm still too hard on her, more than I'd really like to admit with how often I tell her she can do more more more - while still doing it 'better'.
However her values, the ones that have come through because of every experience and lesson to date. Those, I can.
Knowing that no matter how many more times she might mess up, make a 'wrong' decision, 'fail' - she tried her very best.
How she now chooses love first - a routine practiced daily, until one day it's hopefully mastered - both towards herself and how she looks to treat others. How with everything she does, she does with heart, or not at all.
Yes that woman, that woman I can say I'm proud of. Flaws and all...