Sunday, June 10, 2012
Two weeks ago, we took a day trip to Cambridge - or rather I went along, with Daughter and Grandson, for the ride, and in so doing took an unscheduled trip back in time. How strange that Cambridge was there, and I was here, for all those years; it's still as glowing and as beautiful as when I first saw it, 27 years ago, on a similarly glorious day in May. But of course its wonderful ancient buildings, perfect green lawns and wide blue skies have seen and endured centuries of human life that grubs about in the dirt below and barely makes an imprint on the City itself. I had a feeling of melancholy, real sadness mixed somehow with pure pleasure at the enduring beauty of the place. My memories, of family life inextricably woven into the fabric of Cambridge over the fifteen years we lived there, are both sad and happy - removed too by the distance of 10 swift years since we moved away. I felt that Cambridge had absorbed both my history and the histories of my two children, who are no longer children; we are part of the grey and golden stones warmed by the sun and chilled by frost, the shining old cobbles, the familiar spires. As I wandered through those oh-so-familiar streets, along the Backs and across the bridges I felt an overwhelming sadness that those years have flown away - they exist only in my memory, shining brightly as they do - but are completely out of reach. I remembered flying along in a row on our bikes (a mother duck with two ducklings in hot pursuit) into town on a Saturday morning, watching the children paddling at Lammas Land, playing tennis on Jesus Green, meeting at the Fort St.George on Midsummer Common, our perfect house overlooking the Botanical Gardens, the picnics, the Summers, the Winters, the space in our lives that was and always will be Cambridge. I loved it, I love it still, and I can't have even one precious moment of it back again.