I was listening to music on my walkman, but that didn't stop the lady I sat next to on the bus into town yesterday from talking to me. 'Cold, isn't it?'
I agreed; hard to do anything else at the minute. The snow was one thing; at least that went fairly quickly but the constant ice in the air is harder to deal with. Half the time my ears seem to be numb, and the wind rarely feels strong, but I often find my hood blown down in the wind. 'It really is. Did you see the snow yesterday?'
'Oh yes love, early for this time of year.'
She was quiet for a short while, but then started talking again. I put the volume on my walkman down, then switched it off entirely, not wanting to be rude.
She told me about her son, his trips to South America for work. His plans for Christmas with his family. Asked what I do, what my husband does. I'm not sure if she noticed the ring or if she just assumed I must be married. I told her about the trip I have planned to visit one of my sisters, where we all work. She told me about her friend who moved to Newbiggin by the Sea; said she doesn't understand why anyone would move away from the city - everything you need is close by, from the amenities to the seaside to the countryside. She told me about a distant relative who moved away to Norfolk, lived there for 30 years, visited with his family for the weekend and decided by the end of the weekend to put their house on the market and move back up here. That noone talks to you down south; people are friendlier up here. (I thought about arguing that point, but decided that on balance I agreed with her.) I told her that the first time I came up to Newcastle, I'd decided within ten minutes of getting off the train that this is the place for me.
She asked if I belonged here, and it was a hard question to answer. D does, without a doubt. He was born in the Princess Mary Maternity hospital that used to be in Jesmond; it's one of those things that makes you a 'real Geordie'. He's never lived more than about 50 miles away and even when he has lived further afield he's moved back quickly. I can't imagine him ever moving away. But me? Belong here? It's hard to say.
I told her the truth, that I was born on the other side of the country, that I've lived here six years, that my husband is Geordie, that I can't imagine we'll ever move away. She nods, satisfied with the answer. But I'm not.
I asked D before. Do I belong here? He asked if I want to stay. I do.
'Then you're a true Geordie lass. Gan canny, pet.'
That'll do for me.
Oh yes. I saw a single rabbit before, sitting nibbling grass at the side of the road while we were on the bus back from D's grandparents'. I'd missed the bunnies. I'm glad they're still out there.