"Lasting out lockdown in a room haunted by the many versions of the person I used to be breeds a kind of nostalgia I never really feel during a busy university term."Ella Gold

As I lie in bed in my room at home, I encounter my eleven-year-old-self again. My eyes meet hers, as she gazes down from a caricature on the wall, a hasty illustration drawn of me done on a family holiday to America nine years ago. She looks spindly up there, in the treasured Black Eyed Peas t-shirt that drapes too low over her bony shoulders. Her hair – the most exaggerated feature of the caricature – hangs in two thick ropy plaits over her shoulders, taking up about half of the drawing. She looks happy.

Casting my eyes over to the other side of the room, I find my sixteen-year-old-self. Emerald-gowned in a cheap but decent prom dress, pink feather boa thrown in classic photo booth style round my neck and feet proudly clad in my first ever pair of heels. Still at that age where the pain of a night in heels is a secret kind of pleasure. Beside her sits another Ella, aged five or six, reaching up to a sunflower which towers to over twice my height.

"I came across a quote from poet Denise Riley recently, which has really stuck with me: ‘It’s extremely difficult to feel yourself to be young when you are.'"

This room is my own personal time capsule. It is a world in which a hundred versions of myself coexist, where all the experiences of the past twenty years unfurl before me. The typewriter cloaked in celestial blue which I enthusiastically decided, aged fifteen, that I would write all of my homework on (don’t worry, I soon realised how absurd this was and gave up on the idea), neighbours my candle obsession from a year or two before (I should definitely throw those candles out…). A forgotten ukulele lies strewn beside a rediscovered stack of photos. The calendar gifted to me for my most recent birthday, in which my friends photoshopped my face on to Frida Kahlo’s body with some rather terrifying results, hangs on the wall above the suffragette poster which marked the passing of my eighteenth birthday.

Spending so much time at home recently has certainly had me thinking a lot more about my younger self. After so many months at university, with only brief periods back home in between, I feel somehow like a visitor in her room. I feel different from the person who meets me in every nook and cranny of my bedroom. If anything, it is my Cambridge room which is the true reflection of who I am now. With walls peppered with theatre tickets from plays I’ve seen, posters my more recent self has chosen, and an impressive (read: slightly worrying) collection of cushions, that place is the cultivation of my current self.

Lasting out lockdown in a room haunted by the many versions of the person I used to be breeds a kind of nostalgia I never really feel during a busy university term. Even more than that, stepping over the threshold into my family home three months ago felt remarkably like stepping back into the past. This sensation is only exacerbated by the terms under which I am housebound. Having no immediate commitments, spending so much time with my cat and engaging in socialising that consists primarily of drinking in a park are all reminiscent of my life of several years ago. 2020 has become almost indistinguishable from 2016.


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Mountain View

A love letter to logging off

I often wonder if, five or ten years down the line, I will return to my childhood bedroom once again, only to find traces of my twenty-year-old-self littered among the rest. Meeting her friends on tiny screens, desperately trying to make some kind of headway through the Iliad (not a choice), rediscovering the comfort of baking and seeking ways to spend her time on things that feel like they matter.

I came across a quote from poet Denise Riley recently, which has really stuck with me: ‘It’s extremely difficult to feel yourself to be young when you are.’ I think this is so true. We spend our childhoods with eyes eagerly fixated on the future, looking towards a time when we’ll be more independent, or seen as more adult. With such an attitude, it is so easy to inadvertently let your younger years pass you by. For this reason, I am grateful to have this unexpected time in the room I inhabited throughout my teenagehood. Taking the time to reflect on the years, which I sometimes wonder if I wished away too quickly, also reminds me to appreciate my current inauguration into my twenties. Sat in a room in the company of my many younger selves, I am able, in Riley’s words, to really feel myself to be young. I am able to appreciate the silver linings of an (admittedly rather unusual) present, before it melts into another nostalgia-tinted past. 

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