In five-year chunks here’s a whistle-stop tour of the past thirty years of my life, to remind myself that we haven’t always been in lockdown and that, actually, I’ve been very lucky.
Five years ago I was working in an academic library in Oxford. It was dull. It was boring. It was a forty-five minute drive away. I was a part-time customer service library assistant, trying to find creative ways to fill my mind-numbing days. I joined every committee going and gave a presentation on how to give a presentation. One of my tasks was putting up posters; that was as exciting as things got. Sleeping would have been more eventful.
Ten years ago I was living in Wisconsin and I was a stay-at-home-dad with our baby son. I was in the middle of studying for a degree in Education and due to parenthood I became a part-time student rather than full-time. My world consisted of nappies, bottles and baby naps.
Fifteen years ago I was living in Vancouver. I was a bit lost, really. That year had been heavy; a friend had died, I had quit my stressful job and my romantic relationship hit the dust. So what did I do? I jumped on a plane and headed to Canada for a year. I lived in an apartment near a beach, worked as an office temp, had a reunion with an American friend who later became my wife. Who knew?!
Twenty years ago I was teaching English in Japan. It was my second year there, and I still had another year to go. I was living in a small seaside town and taught in four different schools each week. On Mondays I was in my “base school” (a big junior high school in town); on Tuesdays I worked in a small school up a mountain; Wednesday mornings I was back in my base school and then in the afternoon I went to a big elementary school in town; Thursdays I was in a tiny school in a fishing village next to a nuclear reactor, and on Fridays I was in my base school again. I did that job for two years before transferring to a different town for my final year in Japan. What an incredible experience that all was.
Twenty-five years ago I was a twenty-one year old university student, doing a degree in Media Art. It was not the happiest of times, as my photography from that time suggests. Looking back, I was doing the wrong course at the wrong time, but I didn’t have a clue what else I would have done.
Thirty years ago I was sixteen and fully immersed in pop music, buying and listening to albums as if my life depended on it. My prized possession was my Sony Walkman. Happy days!
If this were someone else’s life I’d be pretty impressed that they had lived in Japan, Canada and the USA; in fact, this is exactly the kind of life my younger self had hoped for. I wonder what the next five years will bring?