In 1995 I would probably have ordered a snakebite and blackcurrant in a damp and dingy cellar nightclub, with a name like “The Swamp” or “Moles”.
This weekend’s drink of choice was a pitcher of Pimms and lemonade, the classiest of which was served in the private gardens of the Royal Crescent Hotel.
I think that sums up nicely how we have changed in ten years.
The “reunion”, which started out as an ambitious plan to reunite a whole host of fellow “eurostuds” (European Studies and Modern Languages graduates), was actually a rather a low-key, intimate affair. So much the better. There were two or three people I really wanted to catch up with properly, and not having to feel obliged to make polite small talk with lots of others meant I could concentrate my attention fully on those who mattered.
Walking around the campus alone on Friday, before everyone else arrived, with 1995 vintage Renaissance on my Ipod, I let my feet guide me to the house where I lived in my first year. The curtains in the window bore the same leafy pattern. The trees in front had grown, and now almost obscured my third floor window. I stood there for a long while, letting memories wash over me.
Going to university, for me, was about becoming a new person. Starting over in a place where no-one had ever known me as a bespectacled, swotty, shy teenager. Leaving behind the heartache of the traumatic split with my first boyfriend, and the friends who had turned out to be more his than mine. It was about re-inventing myself. The exhilaration of living my own life, far from the constraints of the parental home, going out whenever I pleased, spending my (ahem, well, the government’s money) on precisely what I chose, answering to no-one but my own conscience.
I loved my new life, my new friends and the new me wholeheartedly, and spent the happiest years of my life to date in Bath.
Ten years later, in the process of shedding my skin and re-inventing myself all over again, I stand at a crossroads and contemplate a future far from the city of light.
I like to think that ten years from now, I will no longer refer to my time in Bath as the happiest years of my life.