Princess Diana died twenty years ago today. I contemplated this passing of two decades as I walked my dog in the early morning sun.
Preying on my mind was a line I read in a book late last night, about life and how it should be lived with immense gratitude and a sense of bewilderment everyday, just for being here and a part of the daily madness. So I was thinking about that, and how twenty years ago upon hearing the news of Diana’s demise I was sitting, legs curled up beneath my frame, on my best friend’s settee in the attic of his parents’ house. I was smoking a Marlboro Light. I had a hangover. I heard the newsreader speak the words about the fatal car crash in the tunnel in Paris and felt a kind of morbid amazement. Really? Princess Diana was dead? That woman who I had watched marrying Charles on a big screen along with my classmates in primary school, when we all received a commemorative coin and marvelled at the very long white train? It seemed surreal, bizarre, totally unbelievable.
I pondered over what the twenty-one-year-old me would have made of me today; forty-one years old, completely alcohol and drug-free; two amazing daughters of whom I’m stupendously proud; a gorgeous bloke who’s really good to me and whom I respect and love deeply; running my own business and enjoying every minute of it.
I’m not what the old me would have envisioned, not at all. I think maybe I saw myself growing older as a kind of hippy type, still a lover of the wine and fags, and job-wise…who knows? I never had any aspirations really in my youth – other than getting wasted and having fun.
As I walked, I emerged from behind a verdant, overgrown hedge into the path of gloriously hazy early morning sunlight. And I thought to myself, ‘you’re still here and you’re not doing badly, not at all’.
I don’t dislike the old me by the way. She was a necessary part of the natural order, an integral component of what was to come. I’ve surprised myself though by the fact that eventually I would discover a life of clarity and being with it all of the time, not wanting to get out of my head, liking myself, loving so much of what’s going on around me, marvelling at the little things, connecting with so many people in so many amazing ways.
I smiled when I pictured me in 1997 – if only she knew the good things that were on their way ☺.