This weekend I travelled back up to Durham for Lumiere Festival (festival of lights for those not in the know). Those who have been an avid reader of this blog will know that I went to Durham University and graduated a year and a half ago. With a few remaining friends still lingering on in there my group of friends (aka The Clique) decided that we should travel up for one large reunion under the premise of art. It has been about 6 months since I was last at Durham, oddly, the place no longer felt like it used to. It had been my home for 3 years. Durham is often called the bubble and truly felt like that at the time. The world outside seemed to pale in comparison with the small perfect town. Since I left many things have changed for me: journalism in India, photography business, moving and working in London. Yet Durham seemed in my mind this unchanging object. A fixed point in time. On the face of it, arriving on Friday night it seemed that way the cathedral lit up scything through the sky, unchanged for centuries, a beacon for those seeking salvation.
“People, define a place” is a saying I’ve had for many years, mainly when travelling but when I arrived at a bar that saw many of my student days/finances spent in, it became evident that this saying was now applicable to Durham too. Despite being fit to bursting, the place seemed void of people I had spent some of the best years with. You are probably all now shouting at the screen that I am being ridiculously sentimental and I am but for those who have been back to old haunts such as university towns or cities you used to work in, that unsettling feeling of not belonging anymore haunts you.
The city itself was as beautiful as ever, the light installations added to its indisputable beauty and my friends remain as always my brilliantly bonkers family. I don’t want to say that it felt like a concluding chapter to my Durham life but it did feel, however, like it could be. If I never go back, I would not be filled with the regret of not returning.
Durham will always, always holds this incredible place for me. I’m sure I am not the only one who walks down the streets of somewhere they have spent many years in looking at places and vividly picturing your past self creating that memory.
Its a sad thing to look back too much as you end up not looking forward at all. However, the majority of the weekend has been spent by all of us looking back: our first meetings, parties, loves, leavings, the whole spectrum of memories relived through a city where memories pervade its walls.
We have all moved on since then: City jobs, Phds, doctors, teachers, working for charities (myself) or -like many graduates- looking for work, but Durham was where we all started our career’s choices and future fancies and in that way it will always remain the same. As the place our lives began.
Sorry for the rather self involved and rambling post and also for the considerable lack of posts these past few months, I am working on a few of them at the moment, normal service will resume soon.