I visited you for the first time this summer at the beginning of July, following exams, when warm breezes and walks in the park were all that was on my mind. As if I could fall in love with Lancaster any deeper.
Perhaps it was my lack of knowing what I was walking into that made the day so wonderful. You were the perfect destination for a first date: a magical combination of seeing the butterflies in the house by the monument and feeling the ones in my tummy, both of which scared me. I remember flinching when they flew too close, but stopping to stare and take photos. You remind me of how important simple pleasures are.
I would walk through the trees, up the stairs of Ashton Memorial and take in the view. I felt nostalgia for a place I’d never been, peaceful and timeless. I found my favourite spot later, down by the lake on an old wooden bench: the perfect place for watching dog walkers pass by, hearing snippets of other conversations, and wondering what brought those people there that day. It is one of the only places I think I could sit for hours, although I imagine I still haven’t discovered every pretty pathway or secret hideaway. Maybe that is what brings on the nostalgia: a curiosity and wonder I haven’t felt much since childhood.
Months later, I have returned to Lancaster again. And I am lucky enough to live close to you. Now I spend many nights walking through the winding paths, letting the day’s busy thoughts dissolve into a lovely quiet. You somehow act as a calming agent, as the wind in my hair and the grass under my feet let me know that everything will be okay in the end: that in the grand scheme of things, today’s worries will be forgotten. Lancaster manages to feel like a home away from home, and it wouldn’t be the same without you.
Now I am back into the routine of busy lectures and late-night studying, maybe those thoughtful walks won’t happen as frequently, but I promise I will return. Next time I am feeling stressed, like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, I will make sure to bring a good book and a flask of tea to my favourite spot by the lake.
Next time I have writer’s block and I am feeling particularly poetic, I will make sure to head up to the park with a notebook in hand and the new creative inspiration you have given me, for which I will forever be thankful.