For my 18th Birthday, which was three years ago now in 2007, I received the gift of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series from Stacey's family. This story, which is spread over seven volumes follows The Last Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead on his quest to reach the elusive Dark Tower. Set in a world different to our own, a world that we are constantly reminded has 'moved on', remnants of our world often appear as ancient relics. Our world hasn't moved on, but seems to be linked in some way to Roland's. Three years ago, I read the first volume in which Roland gives chase to The Man in Black, and encounters Jake, a boy who died in our world and wound up in his world. Moving swiftly along so as to not give away too many spoilers, I then proceeded to read the second book, in which more characters from our world are introduced and brought over to Roland's. Once I had finished reading the second book, I began on the third, but felt that I needed a break from the series, as, even though I was gripped to the story, I didn't want to become bogged down by it. Three years have past however, three years in which these books have remained confined to a shelf in bedroom gathering dust, while I have aged, grown (mentally, emotionally and physically) and become an almost a completely different person. Essentially this 21 year old version of me seems a million miles away from the 18 year old version. This brings me to about a week and a half ago, the first week of August 2010, when I looked across my bedroom and felt the Dark Tower calling to me, just as it does to Roland with its mysterious power. I got up, and reached across picking up The Dark Tower, Volume III: The Waste Lands. I spotted a makeshift bookmark that I had been using which was placed exactly 100 pages into the book. This makeshift bookmark was itself an ancient relic from a time gone by, and goes to show that this world has also 'moved on', as well as signifying the changes in my life that have occurred during the last three years. 'What was this bookmark?' I hear you all cry. The answer, none other than a transaction receipt from the Woolworths store that I used to work in.
So I rejoined Roland on his quest and am enjoying it more than ever. This however is not the main reason for blogging today though, for it was the introduction written by Stephen King in 2003 that is printed on the opening pages of each book in the edition that I own. I reread this introduction entitled Introduction - On Being Nineteen (and a few other things) - and it got me to thinking. The first Dark Tower novel was published in 1982, and the final installment was finally released in 2004. So its fair to say that King spent a considerable amount of his life writing this story, and was a much younger man when he began than when he finished. In fact, when he wrote the introduction to my copy of the story, he was 55 years old, and in it he discusses how he feels that nineteen (the age that he was when he conceived the initial idea for the Dark Tower) was the best age of his life.
I can remember reading this when I was eighteen, and smiling at the fact that I still had the age of nineteen ahead of me. Now, however, the age of nineteen is two years behind me, and after rereading of Stephen King's thoughts, feelings, experiences and memories of being nineteen himself, I began to think back to 2008 (one of the two years in which I had put my quest to reach the Tower on hold), the year that I turned nineteen.
2008 for me has remained the year for all others to beat. For me, 2008 and that age of nineteen signifies the beginning of friendships that will last a lifetime. I was never close enough to any school friends to warrant staying in contact once I left, it was my Woolworths colleagues that I have indeed found my greatest friends in though, and it was 2008 that was the year that I first found this (maybe it was that receipt calling me back and not the Tower?). 2008 was a year of fun-filled days and even better nights. Thinking back, I can only muster some memories of that awesome summer, and all of them make me smile. Memories such as Thorpe Park, Pokemon puzzle league at Chris's house, Victor' s mansion with the hot tub, 'Spoons', a double-date to Bluewater cinema to see Iron Man, playing Okami, listening to 30 Seconds to Mars, SOS fancy dress, going for runs, and doing work experience at MTV while looking forward to getting home to meet up with everyone once again at Spoons.
Those were just some of the memories that I have of that summer, which I still consider to be the best ever in my life so far. Unfortunately that summer had to come to an end as do all sunny days. Many friends disappeared far and wide around the country, while Stacey left our happy Woolies store to end the year on a low an inferior branch. Our manager with whom we had become good friends with was then replaced with another (also inferior) and lead to myself jumping ship to the Blockbuster Store to which I am currently employed. The major story that finished off 2008 was the demise of Woolworths (my Dark Tower if you will). The end of Woolworths coincidentally would coincide with the end of 2008, and effectively be the end of an era. 2009 couldn't live up to the hype and wound up being a bit of a disappointment. 2010 got off to a rocky start, although has done a better job of gaining momentum. I feel I spent too much of 2009 trying to recapture 2008, while this year I have finally been able 'move on' as Roland would say.
To end this blog, I would like to say that while I haven't recaptured the feeling of 2008, 2010 has been an amazing year thus far. I also can't help but feel that in my mind, because the majority of my memories from two years ago are good ones, that I may be idealising it in my head. For now I can happily say that My World has moved on.
...And one last thing, I can't help but notice that this is the nineteenth blog that I have written, which is a spooky coincidence. I'm sure Stephen King would find a story in that!