​Roots.  Everybody needs them; everybody craves them whether they admit it or not.  Pull a plant out of the soil, roots and all, and it will soon wither and die.  Gone is its source of nurture, its stability, its strength.  I think one’s childhood may be likened, metaphorically, to those roots:  the happiness and security of these early days may be drawn on forever more; the starvation of such stability, however, is significant and shall manifest itself for the rest of time.
Sounds like a threat.  Actually, I was just thinking about change and how much I hate it.  Subjected to much, over the last six years, being forced to sell the family home is his last grenade.  Thankfully, I have strong roots and, on the positive, it is time to go.  Out walking  in the evening sun yesterday, along the well-trodden, familiar paths, it was as though Wilbur was still there, that big, lumbering softie whom I was forever rescuing from the stream or for whom I need always retrace my steps to reassure him that that little toy dog ahead proved no threat.  My right arm, these were halcyon days and, having my timing down to a fine art, we rarely encountered another being content for just he and I to be at one with nature, masters of all we surveyed.  Fast forward a decade or so and that idyll is long gone.  People.  Everywhere.  The car park is full.  There are no familiar faces.  The pockets of green within the city are no longer patronized by locals, alone; instead, like bees to honey …  I feel stifled.  I need space to breathe.
Grey paint, numbers on bins, hanging baskets.  Each to their own.  I plan to go ‘home’.  Doesn’t everybody in the end?  It’s back to that roots thing.  I was thinking about life and its different phases which, in turn, led me to think about friends and the transience of many.  School friends, university friends, first married friends and then parent friends.  No prizes for guessing which stay the course – those who shared one’s formative years.  Why is that?  Is it that they know the real you and there is no pretending?  Somehow the bond remains and it is just easy.  Memories of carefree days, free from the responsibilities of life, are ever present and, in difficult times, one seeks solace there.  These are friends who liked you regardless of any job, partner, house, bank balance, children … just you.  Can’t beat that!  I know.
Then one comes to the group of friends one has when first married or when the partners appear.  Now, that is a difficult one.  Most of our friends were guys, like brothers to me but, in time, that closeness was perceived as a threat by the subsequent girlfriends/wives and we saw them less and less.  Insecurities and lack of common ground often proved insurmountable but there seemed more pressure to marry back then and a lot of choices were made for the wrong reasons.  Funnily enough, those are the ones who remain together today.  Suffice to say, the influence of a wife – or husband – can mark the end of many a friendship.  People change – or do they?  I think a shared history is a life-long friendship insurance, regardless.
The arrival of children brings with it another friendship group – the parents of said offspring’s  friends.  Intense at the time, there can be minefields to negotiate and, whilst these friendships are vital while they last, most are transient in the extreme.  I say most.  I concede there are exceptions and perhaps it is dependent on where one lives – I know my mother made lifelong friends through us – but, for my part, most now amount to no more than a ‘Hello’ in the supermarket or, at a push, a five minute catch-up.  Life moves on and priorities change.  Time is precious and there is a growing realization that one can be – and should be – discerning as to with whom one spends it.  I can and therefore I will!  Ah, the joys of advancing years …
Funnily enough, Becca and I were out last night with an old university friend of mine and her daughter whom Becca met entirely independently of me. The next generation.  I don’t see Mary often but it is lovely to catch up – and easy.  Shared memories of happy days – well, mostly shared.  She had no recollection of our joint 21st party!  Her daughter, Lucy, is a chip off the old block and seems to relish the concept of history repeating.  Does make me feel a little old, though.
Aside from her memory loss regarding our 21st, Mary was telling me that, in the process of down-sizing – and in a bid for minimalism – she got rid of all their books and un-necessary clutter.  The very thought not only gives me heart palpitations but convinces me that she must never come here!  I keep everything.  Not a book leaves this house.  I think I have mentioned before that I have trunks for Becca and Manny containing the obvious baby memorabilia, first shoes, favourite toys, favourite books and newspapers for every significant event throughout their lives; I have smaller trunks for their school days housing memories of every year including my favourite among their jotters and their class diaries; I have every class photo with, meticulously written on the back, the names of each person lest they forget.  I have made it my life’s work to ensure exactly that – we never forget.
Ticket stubbs, boarding passes, we keep them all with several old leather suitcases littering the floors.  Following every holiday, I separate into three piles the travel memorabilia, receipts from restaurants or bars visited, museums, events, a cork from a bottle … triggers of the past.  I have trained them well.  I remember coming home after the dreaded Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014.  After voting, I had discarded my polling card without a thought.  Not Manny!  He had kept his knowing that, should the worst happen, it would be a reminder of an historic event.  I let him down.  Thankfully, I was absolved.
The past is very important to me and rightly so.  We are, each, a product of our past.  Minimalism is an alien concept.  I love houses full of character; full of stuff.  Immediately, one is met by the person, enveloped, momentarily, in his/her life.  There is an honesty.  A house with no clutter, no character, however, belongs to the person who wishes to – or has nothing to give away.  Through The Keyhole would be impossible!
My mother, with a house full of clutter and character, in some respects gave no credence to sentiment.  She rarely took photographs of us as children and those she did she threw in a drawer devoid of date or description.  She left cine films in the camera, undeveloped, with complete disregard for their future value and threw things out with gay abandon.  Could my obsession with documenting the past be a reaction to this?  Ironically, it was she who told me to always buy a little momento of a special day or time …  and I always do.
Life and its many phases.  The sands of time and the friendships which stay the course.  The pull to return ‘home’.  The roots remain. 
‘All the happy days
Would never learn to fly
Until the hands of time
Would choose to wave goodbye.’
The Hands of Time, sung by Perry Como and featured in the film Brian’s Song (1970)
This is Trish, signing off.