June 25th 1996
It is all slipping away.
The raucous bubble of university life burst by reality. Friends and familiar faces are leaving, packing 3 years worth of belongings into their parent’s estate cars. People we knew by nickname alone will disappear to be forgotten.
The streets of Cathays feel eerily empty in the strange no man’s land between end of exams and hopeful graduation. I feel desperate to cling on. A certain realisation that I will never experience this freedom, these friendships, this fun again.
I don’t want to grow up. I’ve only just escaped, I want to fly some more.
There is talk of jobs, careers, opportunities, travelling. In all the emotional turmoil of the last few months I have not given my life beyond my degree or, let’s face it, beyond my next drunken evening much thought. Hopeless.
But I won’t dwell on my lack of hope, I need to get rid of this uncomfortable combination of dread and sadness. The end is not yet nigh and I need to forge a plan for the summer. One that avoids parental estate cars. There must be others like me who cannot yet face the future and want to deny any change.
But today is not for future planning. Today is for the sexy seaside town of Swansea.
Ruth has invited me to join her on a change of scene night away in “an ugly, lovely town.” So, having nothing else to do apart from plan the rest of my life how could I resist? I have been promised cheap booze and surfer dudes so it best not disappoint. Harry turned up fleetingly on a bad come-down after the party. She made some brief, embarrassed excuses for her vanishing act, packed a suitcase and buggered off to her Mum’s for the weekend. I am slightly worried about her but she assured me all was well, she just needs a break.
We all do. Ending a chapter in your life is exhausting. I need some sun, sea and surfer dudes………
Well, we have arrived and our borrowed accommodation is mighty fine. A bed each (always a bonus), sea views from the balcony and a walkable distance to and from the bars. Being a Swansea Virgin I am mighty impressed so far. All set for some frivolity.
Here is the order of events (in retrospective).
- Pre drink whilst listening to The Charlatans circa 1990.
- Hit a few city centre bars and feel underdressed and sober.
- Pounce on some attractive, unsuspecting yet welcoming young men.
- Follow said blokes to find some tunes on the beach.
- Dance on beach most of the night to the Rolling Stones on a tinny stereo.
- Get the surfer dude (not entirely convinced of his surfing accreditations but he looked the part:))
Have just spent the late morning with Ruth lounging in the Swansea sunshine, eating ice cream and planning our next move. We are both puzzled by Harry’s oddness but agree that everyone is burnt out and acting a bit strange.
Only a few weeks ’til results. Potentially only a few weeks left in Cardiff. What am I going to do? I can head home to Llanfair and get a job in a pub in Bangor and have my parents advise me about my lack of career. Sounds really inviting. Or I stay here in an empty memory of a city and try to move onwards and upwards.
Am sat on the 3.30pm train ‘borrowed’ home ward bound feeling trepidation. That horrible feeling of opening the door and there being an unwelcome bill/bank letter/court summons waiting for me.
Can I not just stay here on this train happy with happy go lucky Swansea memories on the beach?
What would happen if I never got off?