For a second, as I'm staring, hypnotised, at the lights, I'm a little kid again, and the events of the intervening years have never happened. There is nothing of my parents' coldness, or the gap that has slowly opened between us. Nothing of the secrets. Nothing of the drinks or the pills, nothing of the boys or the 'promise to call you' and 'promise not to cum in your mouth', the staying out at night or the crawling home in the morning. And as those things which have been buried, half forgotten, begin to come back to me, they bring a sadness with them. The kind of sadness that seems so clear, the truth of it can make you double over, suck all the air right out of you. The lights make me remember a time when I was still sheltered from the world. When I could sit on my father's shoulders and I know that while I was there, nothing at all could hurt me.
The image - the trees and the fairy lights and my breath in the cold air - begins to fade. I try to grab hold of it again, but it's like trying to grab hold of a dream once you've started to wake up. I realise that, more than anything, I want some part of that innocence back. I want to be overwhelmed as much as I was as a child. I want to be able to be overwhelmed.