Being home for Christmas has been an amazing thing. I feel rested, calm, slightly bored, and a lot more at peace than I did before the break.
The interesting thing about going home for Christmas though is how it makes everyone revert to their teenage selves. My older brother and I bickered over the TV remote, him insisting on watching Match of the Day while I was mid-Big Bang Theory. My younger brother spent time with friends he's known since the age of 5. We were all exposed to the local, small town, gossip mill.
But while my brothers revelled in catching up with some of their oldest friends, but I actively avoided almost all contact with my former self.
I'm not the girl I was when I was in school. In fact, when I look at the one or two pictures of 16-year-old Alice I can find easily, I barely recognise her. She and I still wear the same size clothes (in fact, I still regularly wear a top I'm wearing in one of these pictures), our hair is not dissimilar, our smile is of course roughly the same- somewhat tentative, crinkle eyed, with that weird upper lip dimple- but there's practically an entire decade between us. A decade of change, of development, of joy and sadness and fear, and I'm just, quite simply, not her.
Why would I want to spend time with people who still remember me as that girl? Who have known me since before I knew myself?
In some ways, there is something immensely comforting in spending time with people who have known you for the best part of your life, and I do spend a lot of time with Z, my primary school best friend. But Z and I have spent time together throughout all of that change. We recognise each other as the adults we are now, not the girls we once were.
(Though of course we still remember the times we dressed in matching outfits, or made up dance routines to Disney songs)
I feel this year has been a huge one in terms of development and change. Maybe more so than at any other time in my life. And you have, of course, read passages of that (and, incidentally, thank you to sticking with me through all of this. It does mean a lot). I no longer feel as though I really have to explain who I am to people. I no longer have the energy or inclination to spend time with people who don't make me feel good about myself.
I'm at the point of welcoming the new year with open arms now. I have grand plans for this year. I'm still trying to work out the logistics of them, but I'm so excited to make the most of this year and to travel and visit new places and see old friends marry and make new friends and have new adventures.
I'm going to use 2016 to find out more about myself- to take trips alone, to start a new job (I hope), to experience ALL THE THINGS.
And while I'm so excited for the new, and to discover and dream and explore, I'm also happy to know that- despite hating being thought of as the girl I used to be- there is always a home for me here.