I brought books with me whenever we went to their house, sat and read during the conversations. I only talked animatedly about the latest Enid Blyton. I was shy and quiet all the rest of the time. But their memory of me, this dull, solid little bookworm wearing impossibly thick glasses, was clearly a fond one. And that was the real me. And so was the young language-student I became later, head still in a book, loving words more than anything else in the world.
Why I don't know, but I drifted away from all that I was passionate about and took jobs that I couldn't really excel at. I was hopeless, although I kept on trying. A colleague once asked why I had chosen a path I clearly was not destined to tread happily. I suppose it comes down to money. It has to be earned. But I wish I could have discovered writing sooner and clung to what I understood best. It suits me to be cloistered in a room with nothing but my imagination. But I guess it wouldn't have paid all the bills. It still doesn't. But I am me again now. But to my aunt and cousins, I had never changed from the child who loved the company of words more than anything else. So they were delighted and not at all surprised to learn I had become a writer.
Apart from during games of Let's Pretend, we are more likely to be natural and honest about who we are when we are very young. The adult years muddy our waters, often from necessity. We have to go out into the world and make our mark, pay our way. We are also expected to be more sociable than we can get away with as children.
So I feel very lucky to have come full circle and be in a position to be me again. A loner with my head in another realm a lot of the time. And confident enough not to care what other people think of that. Even when the lady in our village shop said with a sort of sneer, "So you just sit at home writing little stories, do you?", I agreed, joyfully, that she was absolutely right.
I think my aunt and cousins helped me realise how good it is to be yourself.