When I was around the age Neve is now, our family spent a week in Yorkshire on a camping trip and I found the landscape I wanted to live my life in. I was completely captivated by the earthy curves of the moors and the lush green of the valleys. I loved the scale of it, and how enticing it was to walk to the next crest. I imagined myself roaming alone.
I was 25 when I was able to make this land of peaks, waterfalls, and caves my home. And it was here that I had to gather the courage to leave my (then) husband and do my best for my son. The ten years that followed were harder than I even imagined and it was this landscape that held it all, that held me. Even in grief and fury my curiosity to see what was over the next fell, round the next bend, led me to practice gentle hope. Over countless miles Yorkshire Julia became confident walking alone, relaxed in the dark, able to summon a powerful calm.
Last year I started therapy for the first time and was asked how I felt about the young woman I was during the events in Yorkshire. The rage I felt toward her was a force that hit hard. How could I have been so stupid as to have a child in my situation? How could I have ignored the crimson flags fluttering against my eyes? Why did she not know what I know now? And then I was asked what I would think of her if she wasn’t me. My response was immediate “she was extraordinary; so tenacious and brave”. I am trying little by little to be kinder to past me. To understand how young she was, and how different things were.
On Neve’s birthday on the 17th of this month, I took her to Yorkshire for the first time since she was a baby. We woke to the dawn chorus and climbed crags and dawdled home in true darkness. Together we delighted in the views, the swathes of heather, the land bubbling with water, the rusty braken that matches my hair, and I told her, with tentative pride, a little of the me that wandered here before.