Looking back now I don't think I ever wanted to grow up. Growing up meant losing me. I tried to hang onto me as long as possible. Growing up was negative. Whenever I spoke out or baulked at a situation I was told to ''grow up''. Inside I questioned that. If I cannot speak my mind, I thought, what will I have to say when I ''grow up''. What is lost in the process?
So, in place of the growing up regime, I became immersed in the pages of D.H. Lawrence books and placed myself on the window seat in my bedroom that overlooked the black river that flowed beyond the ancient woods in our garden. I was determined to reject the growing up process, that surely meant that I was to become somebody that was not me at all. In the calm summer evenings of my teenage years I yearned for the sound of the oars that swished over the water and the voice of the cox as he urged the team to slush through the deep. As the night darkened I could hear the low murmurs of my parents' voices emanate from their bedroom and wondered how it was possible that they could have so much to say to one another. Their voices came like waves on a seashore in the middle of August when the moon is full and the sky billows like sheets on a clothes line.
What happened then is beyond me. It was arranged that I move to Dublin. I boarded a train with two bags. I was to live with a friend of the family until I got on my feet. Grew up. I remember it well. Arriving in a big city where trees were in short supply. I remember the flat with the bars on the window and the concrete yard beyond where no weeds grew. I floundered like a fish in shallow water that sucked me under.
I came up with a plan. I decided to go home. I would buy a big box of cream cakes from a famous Dublin confectionary. That would soften the blow, ease me back into my window seat and wood pigeons cooing from the trees. I went to the train station careful to balance the box of cakes. I called my father from a pay phone. I told him I was coming home. He said, No. No. No. Go back. I put the phone carefully back into its cradle. The phone that contained my destiny. I remember boarding a bus to bring me back to the tiny flat. I remember hoping the woman I lived with liked cream cakes. I remember thinking I was quickly growing up to be something I did not want to be. I remember thinking that I would fight being what someone wanted me to be. That when I grew up I wanted to be me, to be what I felt was right. Who else could I be? The seeds were sown, the growing conditions guaranteed a flourish, a full harvest.