Thereâ€™s always a mental shift for me on my way to Wagga, and then again on my way home. Itâ€™s almost like a mini mental metamorphosis that takes place in the 5 hours between leaving Sydney and when I cross the Murrumbidgee near Gundagai. And I canâ€™t really accurately describe WHAT it is â€“ itâ€™s more subtle than that. Itâ€™s more about mentally padding myself against the bombardment of my past, and then on the way home shedding all that padding so I can walk more easily as myself.
There are some things you can just never pad against or shed, though. If youâ€™re known to someone or a group of people long enough, there are invariably things about you that theyâ€™ll take as given, regardless of how much you change and/or grow as a person. Like being a tom boy. I was never really a girly girl, but honestly, I think it had less to do with being a tom boy than it did with the whole competitive riding thing. Itâ€™s somewhat difficult to wear frocks and care about the state of your hair when youâ€™re astride a horse and/or mucking out stables the majority of the day. But people assume things I guess. For the last few years (yep, Iâ€™m not talking about a short period of time here), every time someone from my family sees me in a skirt, I get the whole â€˜oh my god, Karen is wearing a SKIRTâ€™ thing. Itâ€™s like those years of non-skirt wearing have completely obliterated any part of their brain that can possibly comprehend it could happen.
And thereâ€™s also the whole assuming youâ€™re still the same person you were when you were 16 thing. I mean, I appreciate every single thing I got for Christmas. Itâ€™s not really about gifts and the idea that someone put thought into what Iâ€™d like means a lot. But at times I feel like sending out a memo â€“ U2 do not rule my universe any more. Also, there are only so many framed U2 posters and memorabilia one girl can take, year after year. Perhaps itâ€™s my fault for being so hard to buy for. Which apparently I am.
Also, since I was 16, Iâ€™ve found out thereâ€™s a whoooole rainbow of wonderful colours out there. I still love the colour yellow, really, but I donâ€™t need every cushion, towel, rug etc. in my house to BE yellow.
You canâ€™t really explain these things to the people you love though, can you. Not without someoneâ€™s feelings getting hurt. They have a snapshot of you, right before the time that you stopped being primarily the daughter and the granddaughter and the sister and started becoming yourself. And because of that I guess I will continue to store and/or rotate those U2 pictures/calendars/wall hangings.
And I will also continue to be unerringly grateful for the people I have in my life who understand me as I am. And keep up with me as I grow and change â€“ not inherently, but subtly. Because if youâ€™re not changing, then youâ€™re not learning. And itâ€™s an honest to god tragedy I think to go through your life not learning.