The Beatles arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1964

April 30, 2024, by UoN School of English

Now and then

I had never thought that The Beatles would release a song in my own lifetime. I suppose I consider them something of the past that I could never feel close too, something that reminds me of my dad because “there will never be a love song quite like The Long and Winding Road”. Maybe I can give my children ‘Now and Then’, or maybe I can give that to you.  

Stick with me here.  

I turned twenty in January. But before I turned twenty, I called my mum just to say, ‘can you believe I’m turning twenty?’. A silly question. I’m sure If she had the will to, she would find a way to make me four again, I suppose most parents would say the same. I think twenty is sort of a place I’ve been waiting for, I guess I figured It would be the first time in my life that I were somewhere I had completely chosen to be. The first time that perhaps, I would have learnt a few things. Because nineteen gave me a lot and took away a lot too. Not that I remember being asked if it could be. But I think that’s just it, it’s facing that part of life that I were always told “we all have to” but didn’t quite believe it to be so, loss. A grief for something that were so present not long ago. 

But I still have, I have completely chosen to be where I am now. Writing this for you (perhaps a little for me). But ask me if I had known what it would look like a year ago, and I can promise my answer would not have been this. Ask me who I was thinking of, and it wouldn’t be the same as it were now. Tell me I look tired, and ask me why, because it wouldn’t be the same reason as if it were now. If I had known it then, that I would lose some of those people I never thought I could and still be completely okay. That this new distance would softly, so much that I barely noticed, loosen my hold on what did not hold me back. That the exact thing that scared me would give me what I didn’t know I were looking for. I would have said, my dad was right.  

Only now, now that I am here, I can tell you that if you found someone you could love once, in any way, you will find it again. And all those feelings that you thought were missing won’t feel so missing anymore. Because you’re letting feeling in again. And you’re doing what you always wanted. And you’re going out and you’re talking more, like you used to. And you’re letting feeling in again, despite it all.  

And maybe sometimes, you’ll let your memory wonder off, thinking about how little you knew then. Maybe you’ll even miss it, the time before it was all so real. Miss who you were then, just for a second. I think there’s only something more beautiful in that.  

That you’ll miss it, and still not change any of it for the world.  

— Mary Irene Carolan, 1st year BA English  

Image credits: United Press International, photographer unknown

Posted in Student Words