‘No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the
patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither
do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will
burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No,
they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.’
Like I said in my last post, on Friday night I was at a school reunion. I’m fairly confident I’ve grown up into a reasonable person but I felt some trepidation about what people would think. After all, the last time some of these people saw me I was either a small child or an awkward teenager – chubby, bad hair, pale, slightly uncomfortable in my own skin.
In the month running up to the reunion I fell prey to adolescent paranoia and decided to lose weight, so I could wear the confidence of a slim and gorgeous person (forgetting that by non-London standards I am already slim) and blow all the people who were skinnier than me at school out of the water with my boney-ness. I virtually cut out all carbohydrates from my diet and started walking as many of the eight miles to work as I could in the morning, gaining inspiration on the road to Brixton or trekking as far as Vauxhall to cross the river, or even past the Houses of Parliament, up Whitehall and Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square. I subconciously hoped it would distract people from the fact that I’m not married and have no children. It was a good plan that went downhill by some gratuitous carbohydrate eating the five days before the reunion. At about the same time it dawned on me that it was possible people may just feel even more sorry for me, thinking ‘She’s slim and gorgeous and yet she’s still not managed to get married and have kids. Wonder what’s wrong with her?’
The truth is, of course, no one was really thinking that much about me. Everyone it seems, was too busy having their own, similar moments of self-doubt. I had a long conversation with my sister along these lines and realised we’d all be sitting there hoping no-one would be judging us on who we once were or on what we had or hadn’t become. Because now we’re grown up. None of us fit into the small box of who we once were in the past because we’ve grown out of it. We all worried that maybe people would try to squash us back in to fit their memories and expectations.
But actually I think everyone was delighted to find what we’d all grown up into. So when one guy spotted his wife aged about eleven on a video clip – massive glasses and a brace, looking quite geeky and unattractive – he wolf-whistled. He knows who that girl grew up into.
The past may have shaped us, like braces onto bucked teeth, into who we are today. But who we are today isn’t the same as who we were then and nothing can make us go back. The braces are off, and behind them is a big, grown up, grin.