I found my peace
By Anna Marie Felice
The story I want to tell is the story I don’t want to tell. The memories that make me are the stories that tell you I was once on the beach, our last day at school, on the last day of June, 1978, it might have been, us school leavers drawing on our uniforms, peeling at our skin, sunburnt with the sand stuck to our bodies.
And another time, I recall my journey home, the sea voyage back from the island of Sicily to my home island after a month away. Those adventurous uncertain days, the mistakes I made that made me cry, the friendships I made that gave me joy and yet the uncertainties stood in the way until one day it dawned on me that I could escape.
At only 19 I left for London. And today I recall the decision was easy to make, the adventures of the London scene, the 80s, London was in riots. Some days I stayed inside, other days I explored and came to find the world was big and people cared. Other days I realised how little I knew.
One warm Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park, by the Serpentine I sat on a deckchair for a while, until I was asked to pay, then I stood up! And a woman, her skin colour darker than mine spoke to me, I was alone. She asked me if I understood her life in Palestine, I said, No. I thought, how little I knew.
My world was small then, replaying the music of my youth from the cassette tape of Bridge Over Troubled Water, but soon I was drawn to the new sounds of The Human League and Simple Minds, and I danced to Kate Bush when she sang Wuthering Heights!
My world was awakening. When I met Caroline during my Camberwell years in South London I learnt of her time in South Africa and of the Soweto uprising of 1976. And when the thousands gathered in Wembley to sing at the Nelson Mandela concert, I, like millions of others was glued to the TV. I had already left London then and when I sang Free Nelson Mandela, I knew who I was singing for!
I was now making myself a new home in the leafy suburbs of Hertfordshire, but the railway lines still drew me back to the London theatres and music venues, its green parks and art galleries. I was late into my adolescence when I found my voice and my freedom. I was late into my adolescence when I fought for and found my peace!