An Experience to Remember

There are moments in life that define who you are. Whether its childhood memories of playing in the garden, family holidays, moments with loved ones or even a life changing event that leaves ripples in an otherwise fleeting moment, forever lost in the passage of time.  It’s these moments that can’t be forgotten, like someone took a photograph and pinned it to the corners of your mind, catalogued forever in your heart. Memories you’re able to return to for comfort or remembrance, a memory still as vivid as the moment it occurred.

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Me and my Aunty Leigh flipping pancakes in the late 1990’s – look at that fringe!

Those moments come in different forms; they can arrive in the form of a family summer holiday, all sunbathing, squabbles and driving to Spain in a van that your father is convinced he’s turned into a chic Winnebago. I adored the travelling together, despite the van. We stopped on our way to our campsite at various little towns and villages, such as medieval Besalu and scenic Banyoles. It’s those memories together that are treasured now that my parents have parted ways, it’s these memories that remind you of a time less complicated, of sun, sea and stupidity, all mixed together into the shape of a family vacation, savouring the time together in a jam-packed van which for some reason contained a George Foreman Grill. Now our holidays are different, with a stepfather and step sister, sans le van but still memorable, and still somehow involving a George Foreman Grill…a must pack item for sure!

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My Mum in front of one of the infamous vans in Spain

Other moments are the trip to Paris my Aunty Leigh took me on at 11, where I flew unbeknownst into the land of berets, Parisian chic fashion and baguettes. Where we watched Madonna in concert and visited the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and ate croissants. Beautiful buildings and chic little bistros lining the streets, gripping Leigh’s hand and feeling so grown up. It’s this beautiful moment given as a gift to someone so young, that made me fall in love with fashion, seeing the French women sashaying through Boulevard Saint Germain all Audrey Hepburn-esque and full of joie de vivre. It defined a lifelong obsession with fashion, art, culture and beauty. After Leigh’s death in 2009, it’s that memory in distant France that I hold onto. The image of a young woman who had been through so much already in life, taking her young niece for a trip of a lifetime at the young age of eleven and smiling through it all. I prefer this memory to the latter ones of her life, ones in sickness and sadness. Her beautiful face was always smiling and we all have wonderful memories of her, but this was just ours, our little indulgence, two girls wandering around Paris, and for that short time, without a care in the world.

IMG_0002Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower with my Aunty Leigh and her husband Graeme, 2001.

IMG_0001 Me and my Aunty Leigh at the Madonna Concert in Paris 2001. It was a surprise and I love her smile in this picture.

Memories can occur at the strangest times in life and can emerge anywhere. In 2010, my family decided to move to Malta, away from all we knew, our family and friends. We packed up our home and flew away to an island surrounded by ocean. The moment I realised this wasn’t the right fit for me was a defining one. At 20 I knew I had to leave this beautiful place and spread my wings in literal flight to England, to go to university, to everything familiar, the place I grew up. Leaving my family one day in November has to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, leaving a safe environment and carving a path for myself but i knew it was the right thing for me in that moment. Three years later I look back at my time in Malta as great adventure into the unknown, the correct move for my family, just not for me. Presently, I’m the happiest I’ve even been. I’ve finished my degree, I have friends I adore, a boyfriend I love, my family are still just a plane ride away and all of this has strengthened family bonds. Now we appreciate the time we see each other, rather than taking that time for granted. It teaches us that often it’s the hardest decisions that can often be the most important to make.  Sometimes life’s rollercoaster ride isn’t just with ups and downs; it’s with loop-de-loops that sometimes mean you end up exactly where you started, not creeping backwards but leaping forwards.

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Comino – Island off Malta

Photographs capture these memories, but in the mind they form something all the more unique, a beautiful imprint on the heart, a memory that doesn’t last for a solitary moment but for a lifetime. It’s like Doctor Seuss once said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory” and it’s these memories that define who we become, it’s these experiences that we remember.

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Me in Gozo