A while ago, Tom Being Tom wrote a post called What’s Your Happiest Memory? It sounds like a simple question, but when I tried to answer it I realised it was harder than it seemed.
Picking through the images my brain was throwing at me, I found myself wondering what I meant by ‘happy’ anyway. There are different kinds of happiness, and they’re all valuable in their own ways, but some are more appealing than others.
I’m not someone who craves contentment, for example. I much prefer getting my happiness fix from a feeling of fulfilment, rather than a feeling of security. I’m also a bit of an adrenaline junkie: not in a jumping out of helicopters way, but in a head rushes from doing something kinda badass at work way.
Still, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the things that popped into my head when I read the question, to see whether any themes appeared. So here are some of my happiest memories.
1. Hot bath on cold day
This was less of a memory and more of an impression. I think it’s actually an accumulation of several memories, probably with its foundations in my teenage years when I lived by the Sussex Downs. When it started thundering or pouring with rain, I’d take myself outside and walk over the hills, getting utterly drenched and freezing cold in the process. I generally had that scene from Sense & Sensibility in my mind, when Marianne walks over the hills in the pouring rain.
I definitely saw myself as some kind of Victorian heroine as a teenager.
An important part of the walk is the return home, though. It’s no fun if you’re sodden and chilly all evening: the walk is only fun if you get into a nice deep hot bath afterwards, ideally with a mug of hot chocolate, and your skin goes all tingly as you warm up. The last time this happened was about six months ago, I think, when I walked along the river for a few hours and then came home and got warm again.
2. On the bus home from the A-level Philosophy conference when I was eighteen
We’d gone to London to spend a whole day doing philosophical things. It was amazing. On the bus home I could feel my brain chewing over the topics we’d discussed. It was in this moment that I decided it was definitely worth the pain of tearing myself out of my mother’s cult and starting a new life on my own.
Again these all sort of smoosh into one. I go to Glastonbury once a year or so and spend time with two of my favourite people in the world. I always have a lovely time.
I do a ten-mile walk around the Somerset plains, go for a hot chocolate at the Blue Note Café, and then catch up with my friends before going to bed. There are normally quite a lot of baths too.
See, there’s already a theme. Walking and hot chocolate and baths, apparently.
4. That time I got so excited I hugged a cupboard
It was a work-related thing. I’d just passed an interview but I’m superstitious about telling people things until they’re 100% definite so I didn’t want to WhatsApp my friends and be like OMG GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS.
Instead I finished my Very Professional Phone Call, stood up, jumped up and down, squealed and hugged my filing cabinet. Because that’s a normal reaction to being asked back for a second round of interviews.
5. South Carolina
I’d had a rough few years. I was standing watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean, the waves gently lapping against my feet, and I was filled with happiness just for being alive.
Seriously, that ocean. *heart eyes emoji*
I could probably go on, but those were the things that popped immediately into my mind when I read the question, so I guess those are the most potent.
Tell me about some of your happiest memories.