Ghosts of Christmas past


It struck me when I went home to my parents for Christmas, that you never really leave your former selves behind. Superficially, a lot has changed in the house that I grew up in, but when I walk around in it, I keep finding myself drifting into layers of my childhood - seeing myself aged 5 or 9 or 13. There's an old Russian saying that you can't step in the same river water twice. That may be true, but the family home seems to act more like a lake or pool, and the water stays in layers. This isn't a bad thing - I had a very happy childhood - but it is odd when you are a grown woman visiting with your husband.

For as long as I can remember, the bolt on the bathroom door only slid half way because, when I was little, I stuck a green crayon into the bolt's staple (in a spirit of scientific enquiry), and the crayon broke off. Dad (amid a good deal of muttered cursing) tried to get the stub of the crayon out with a knife, but nothing would budge it. So there it stayed for the next 15 years or so, impeding the progress of the bolt. My parents redecorated the bathroom a few years ago and replaced the bolt, but when I go in there, I'm still surprised when it slides all the way home.