#photographicmemory is a feature in which someone sends in a nostalgic photo of themselves and writes about it. It was created because sometimes you can find out more about a person by asking them to describe a photo than by asking them a ton of questions. It was also created because it’s nice to look at pretty photos.
I deliberated for a long time over which photo I should choose for this piece. Finding something suitably poignant was a challenge, and I was unsure as to which sort of emotions I wanted to convey through my choice of photo; something which brought back memories of an incredible night with my closest friends, a family picture which made me feel comforted or even something which brought up memories I might otherwise try to bury away and forget about. When I came across this photo, it felt like the perfect choice, because it encompasses all of these things and so much more.
This photo was taken when I was 16 years old, at Monknash Beach in South Wales – my favourite place in the entire world. It’s somewhere I feel entirely at peace and wholly content, and the place I will always return to when I feel ungrounded or rootless. I was first taken to Monknash in the summer of 2010, by someone I cared a great deal about at the time, and instantly felt at home.
I have taken everyone I care most about to this beach, because I feel like it reveals an intimate part of me, and it’s something I want to share with the people I love. It’s the place I came to during a difficult week at the start of university, when I flew home and begged my parents to let me leave Edinburgh. Having spent my first weeks at university feeling desperately alone and unhappy, I needed to feel something resembling home again, and Monknash provided exactly that.
Every time I return, I find that I have grown and changed in new ways, and I take something different away from my visit. Whilst Monknash remains unchanged, I find solace in recounting the difference versions of myself that have come here, looking for comfort or happiness, and I appreciate the ways in which I have altered – aware that in the years to come I’ll reflect on just how little I know now, and how much I still have to learn.
So, I apologise for this sickening display of sentimentality, but Monknash has my heart and I will never feel embarrassed of the security it brings me.
Emilia Bona is a politics student at Edinburgh University. Her favourite book is The Picture of Dorian Grey and she can eat an entire packet of parma ham in under a minute – including the time it takes to remove the packaging. In other soundbites, Billy Eliot is her feminist icon and a croissant once saved her from hypothermia in the Swiss mountains.
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