3 September 2014

This app is a true friend to social media, and to those of us who love to revisit and revel in past events. The handy straight shot portkey to the past, right there in your pocket. However, sometimes certain past events need not be revisited. They need to be left to rest, put to sleep and brushed under the bed. Some characters in our stories needn't be given more screen time, and some days don't need a memory recall.
Put simply, Timehop breaks my heart. Ninety-five percent of the time, it's a kick to the gut and lemon juice on the wounds.

Five years ago, I wrote vague Facebook statuses about boys and the classic fifteen/sixteen year-old struggles. The worst part? They were all in third person, as I assumed this was how you did Facebook. Some gems included: 'has been listening to The Beatles all day, and now knows why you can't be friends with boys', 'needs to get out of this town like RIGHT NOW', and 'is attempting to do some homework'... Gosh, it's horrific. How naive she once was, eh?
Both four and three years ago, I was almost always travelling. I cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge, I visited family Down Under; I saw surfers, I climbed the hills, I played the slots. All good memories. I feel like they're thrown in my face now; I remember them as happy blurred tales, I needn't know the exact day. Four years later, on the day I cycled the bridge, I was working the second shift of my twelve-hour day at work, it was raining hard and I had toast for dinner. I fell asleep wistful - the wanderlust returned.
Two years ago, I was a second year. In the awkward period between party year and pressure year. Enough said. One year ago, I was inordinately excited about the end of summer. I'm dreading the first semester flashbacks for the next couple of months, but looking forward to November onwards. I turned it around last Christmas. So that's something.

The most upsetting thing about Timehop is when the app greets me as I wake up in the morning and shows me some photos of what once was. I see these photos, and they systematically bring me down. Nine times out of ten, I don't see the old me and feel happily nostalgic. I see who I was and remember what went on in my mind. I see the decisions I made back then. I see what happened right before, or right after the photo was taken. I see what started or ended, I see the events that led to it, and the events that unfolded for a long time after.

I don't see our swingin' sixties style homage; I see too many drinks, a hip flask of Jack, sitting opposite sweet memories and new hatred, taking care of the waster girl, hearing the worst version of the truth, being let go, storming out abruptly and crying in my housemate's arms. I feel the funky green trousers rip as I walk. I hear myself screaming in frustration on the pitch the next day, after being criticised. My head hurts as I recall the hard months afterwards, hiding, tiptoeing around and letting myself snap far too frequently.

I don't remember the sweet taste of my double, or the sight of the boldly pink hair hanging in front of my eyes. I vaguely recall the sheer thrill of running down the path towards the cathedral, holding my shirt in my hand, wearing a warm coat of booze and not caring what anyone thought. I then feel the sting of betrayal and the relentless stream of bitchiness and downright psychotic behaviour that came my way not long after. The taking advantage of awkward kindness, pushing it too far, tasteless Pinot Grigio, and childish immaturity.

I heard drunken rambling confessions in the toilet as the princesses applied lipstick, I saw people I thought I knew through different eyes, I felt like an object in blue. The dress was a surprise; taking it to the counter to hear the price had gone down to £5, wonderful considering at the time I had precisely £8.46 left of my overdraft and refused to go sober that night. I'll never forget the taste of doughnuts tinged with blue WKD, or the harsh jibes I received when I brought out my DSLR and tried to make pretty memories. I also think about how much it cost to colour my hair that yellow.

My heart breaks as I say goodbye to my happy school days; from now on the only time we'll be crossing that threshold is to sit on hard chairs and lean on wobbly tables as we scribble out hours of last-minute revision. Later that evening I rub magic marker off my arm, wash red spray out of my hair and climb into bed, smelling the fresh linen and sensing the end of an era. My school friends will move down the road, I'll be two trains away. I'll be forgotten. Someday I'll realise I was brave, I made a good decision, but right now it just hurts.

I cough as I battle a chest infection, I inhale menthol from across the table and stutter as I speak. I hear the line 'dressing up just to get undressed', and wonder if that's how you saw me at night. You're jealous, because something good is happening to me. Someone good is happening. Instant coffee is my enemy, as are my feelings and as are you - I'll realise that later. Things will quieten down, I'll be at sea, and pretty soon awkward bumpings-into will be all we have. And that's okay. I write poems in my mind, and they'll soon be cluttering up my blog. C'est la vie. I should have said goodbye, then.

This one can never have sad connotations attached - well, the only sadness I feel when I look upon this street is obviously the deepest yearning and surprising homesickness for the marvellous magic of halls, my first year, my time as a Fresher. Granted, shouts of 'Oi Fresher!' were unwelcome at best, but I'd go back in a heartbeat. If only for a day (and a night, perhaps). Terrible decisions were made, ugly truths faced, friendships fell apart every other week; realisations came around fast, skies cleared, parties kept us going. This photo is super-imposed on my bank card, and is a fail-safe screensaver. I long to go back to visit, and yet know it could never be the same. Bittersweet.

Okay, so maybe there is a sneaky five percent of the time, when the Hop does good. When I go back to a good place, it's always long-awaited, hotly anticipated and fully appreciated. Just as I make that decision to delete, to uninstall the offender, something beautiful comes along. Timehop Abe is like a fickle friend who delights in passive-aggressively torturing me, bringing up the past and acting innocent as he does so, but then every now and again he'll throw me a bone. I can't stay mad. He can stay, for now.

Also, I'm half-dreading, half-sickeningly excited about Timehop this time next year. That is, if I haven't trashed Abe once and for all by then...

1 comment

  1. Really vivid, interesting ways of looking at photographs. It's funny what you remember and why, and how it's often unfortunately the things you'd rather forget. I completely agree with you about West Downs - I have a photo just like that and every time I look at it I want to go back! I don't know anyone who doesn't miss living there!


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