This time of year awakens the longing inside of us. Old aspirations are dusted off and re-examined; our lives begin to dissatisfy; we are restless. Maybe it’s something to do with the leaves turning—that sense of time passing, of our own mortality. Or maybe it’s that back-to-school or college feeling, the one we grew up with, preparing for each September, the milestone month, when our true calendar began. So now, each passing year, as we tick off the opportunities missed, we feel September pressing at our backs, urging us to take one more chance, to resurrect our dreams.
I picked up the phone and called. The woman on reception was helpful; she found a suitable slot and booked me in. Starting in September—the familiar words were back on my lips. This time there was no booklist, no uniform, no one to take me there or show me round. I simply finished work one evening and took a bus to a part of the city I hadn’t visited for a while. There, in a building of faded grandeur, I joined a group of equally nervous adults and signed up for my first creative writing class. Standing round the battered boiler, waiting my turn to make tea, I realised I hadn’t signed up with a group like this since starting my first job, over twenty years earlier. It was scary but invigorating too. Here were new people who knew nothing about me; it was a chance to reinvent myself. Maybe I could begin to think of myself as, dared I say it, an aspiring writer? I was 39.