A Year And A Day

A year and a day. For centuries, in English law, it was a vital time period. It was the minimum sentence that could be given for any crime ruled to be a felony. And in the case of a death, if it occurred a year and a day (or more) after the initial event, the death couldn’t be called murder.
A year and a day ago I moved back to Leeds. Back home. I remember when I was young and couldn’t wait to leave a city I found so restricting and small. I came back often over the years, but I saw it with an outsider’s eyes. Its decline and the way it rose again.
I began collecting books on Leeds history – I’m still not sure exactly why – and immersing myself in them. Then I started writing novels set there. By that time I’d returned to England after a few decades abroad. My ambivalent feelings towards the place had turned to love. Well, revisiting an old love, really. I came here more often, and discovered more and more about that place (something I’m still doing).
Finally, with all the right stars aligned, it was time to return.
A year ago tonight, we walked the streets I’d walked when I was a teenager. Past my old school, which stands on the far side of the fields from where we live now. I kept encountering the ghost of the younger me, so naïve and hopeful.
He’s gone now, not even a glimpse at the corner of my eye, but it was strange to meet him. The ghosts now aren’t from my own past, but my family’s. The places in Leeds where they lived and loved and worked. They feed me history, not just of Leeds, but how they existed, and urge me to write it down.
So it’s been a year and a day. And I’m content.

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