I suppose you'd call it homesickness, this hesitant clutching sensation, like the searching hand of a timorous child; this feeling that creeps up from behind and tries to slip its tiny fingers round my lower spine as I walk down my city street. It only happens when a certain kind of breeze is on the air - of a certain speed and freshness and with an old familiar wantonness of direction - and only when this breeze combines with a scent, quite faint, perhaps merely imagined, of the warm scuffing of heather on shins, of the succulent hush of bluebell sanctuaries, of long, tough grass trampled under country feet and the ticklish waft from effusive dog tails. Then I feel this timid, hankering clutch and I mourn for my country childhood and the elusive, clever, dreaming girl I once was. And yet... at the same time, I know that I would not choose to go back. Were a magic pathway to spring up at my feet, I feel sure I would not take it. So how can I feel homesick for a place I'd never return to? How can I feel nostalgic for a past I don't want back?
Perhaps these are not really my emotions. Perhaps they belong to the child I once was. If she is not dead, but sleeping somewhere inside me, then perhaps the breeze stirs her from her slumbers and, in those few moments of wakefulness, she wonders and grows forlorn when she sees what lay ahead.