Difference in Years

We used to go on holiday together. To dust-sprayed campsites, with small, scorched-grass pitches where we propped our tents, matching in their faded, worn canvases and carefully collected rocks.

The smell of sun cream pervades these memories - and card games, mosquitoes, gas lamps, dirty shower stalls, manhunt, swimming pools, beach towels.

(My first memory is four years old, walking down yellow roads with a five year old beside me, counting the English cars in the heat-wavering pitches)

I've watched the cracks appearing.

They still come over, a pile of familiar bodies, every worn curve, crack, smile, flick. They are here for first-barbecue-of-the-year, Friday-night-takeaway, quick-cup-of-tea. But times are shifting, changing, scouring over summer-brown bodies.

We are moving to a bigger house, we are up-and-coming, and they are wearing away, frown lines deeper, smiles edgier. They are falling through holes they never thought to mend (jobless and uneducated, guilty-dead parents, failing son).

They get drunk quicker and leave earlier.

This year, instead of May bank holiday routine - tamed wild horses pushing at even-older green canvas, sweating bike rides and barbecue burnt breakfast, pub lunch and whatever-we-can-find dinner, we stay in a cool house, with warm, clean showers that we don't have to queue for, and dinner that is cooked on an electric barbecue in the corner.

I miss the heat-shiny legs and illicit, hide-from-the-warden-twigs. I miss the sweat-damp airbeds and football games over outside-smelling grassy hummocks. I miss the smell of tree-bark-on-your-clothes.

And they aren't here. These friends don't share the same long-stretching-road memories, the familiarity (the card says 'to my second family') or the understanding we-will-always-be-here (because you can't get away from bath-sharing, tar-bubble-popping memories, and besides they only live(d) 'just popping over the road' away.)

When I was adult teeth no make-up baggy shorts young I thought this meant it all. I thought it meant things would stay the same. When I was bird-stick thin and clumsy young the thought that maybe, possibly (hopefully?) we would detach didn't even cross my mind.

But times are shifting. My childhood memories are wrapped up with them, but I am old enough now for tight nostalgia knots in my stomach, and the memories will be gone soon.

They will be gone soon.