Green Park ghosts
There comes a time in every person’s life when the age of innocence becomes an ancient history. We stop believing in Santa and swap monsters in our wardrobes for ghosts of bad memories.
Some places, smells and even shapes, haunted by the past, become off limits. One of my girlfriends abandoned a bottle of a very expensive perfume because it reminded her of an ex, another friend refuses to go to one particular restaurant because a girl broke up with him in there. I myself developed an allergy to Grand Prix and cold pasties from Tesco.
One lovely December Sunday we took the boys to Covent Garden to see the Christmas installation. While the boys were munching their cookies and admiring the Christmas tree, Mr Chateauneuf was progressively regressing into an alcohol induced coma. The night before he spent with his buddies on an annual catch up which involved football, alcohol… and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what else.
After an hour of watching his attempts to surface into the world of the living, I gave up and sent him to Kings Cross station to take a train home. It was still early so I took a tube to Green Park and instead of changing for Victoria I got out and walked. I knew the route as I used to walk through that park once upon a time and I remembered how much I used to enjoy it.
It was a sunny, nippy afternoon and the park was just as I remembered it – serene and huge. There was still the little kiosk selling weather appropriate beverages and snacks. I stepped on a path and immediately remembered how I had dropped my phone there it had fallen into the puddle a few years ago. The memory made me cringe – it was an expensive slip.
I was walking deeper into the park, past a bench where I had fed a squirrel my chocolate muffin, past the very old tree that I had always wondered about how many kings and queens it had seen. I was sinking deeper and deeper into my memories and half way through the park I realised I was surrounded by all the ghosts of my past.
They were swirling around me, forcing me to go back to that winter when I felt so lonely, scared and abandoned. I was ambushed by my own emotions. It was like being in a museum of my own life, exhibit ‘First few months after separation’.
I even remembered the boots and the coat I had worn that winter. The bitter taste of loneliness and the chill of winter I had felt that December became all too real. Before I realised what was happening I was regressing into my past.
On Buckingham Palace Road I was so lost in my thoughts that I barely noticed the new pavement I was walking on and the fact that they got rid of the shop I used to pop into for cigarettes. There were new things on my old route. There was a completely new development around the station. And as the scenery was changing so was my mood.
I realised that even though the past had happened and affected me the way it did, I was no longer the girl I was a few years ago. I regained my confidence, rebuilt my life and got a new job. But I went even further, I opened up my heart and let a new love in.
The park will never change and neither will my memories, but I have changed. So I confidently walked, brushing off the ghosts and ignoring their moaning. And even though my walk was haunted I enjoyed it. Because I knew my past stayed in Green Park while my future was on its way to Kings Cross station.