A few months ago when visiting and showing the Beardy One around Ipswich, i was asked (over the obligatory glass of vino blanco) how long i thought it would take for my identity to change. At the time i thought it an odd question – it’s just me – who i am, how i react, what i think/say/feel. These things, these aspects of my consiousness are all intertwined, intermingled like a finely woven blanket. Each affects the other in the warp and the weft to create the picture that is Ali. Maybe I didn’t quite grasp the subtlety of the question – for even at this stage there are slight changes to that weft – a different hue here and there.
Of course there are the obvious things – the stopping mid-sentence to correct a comment based on simple geography and tense: “we do it…” to “when in Scotland we did it….” (that has happened a lot!), the smiles and “hello vicar” over the road at the shops from multitudious strangers, “Guess where the vicar’s from!” games with the P3’s at one local school (sorry – Year 3’s – there i go again!) All part of the culture shift and re-becoming English after 18 years in Scotland. Not a rebranding or re-invention, but discovery and integration of the new.
It’s the not-so-obvious things which will take time to get my head around – shifts in understanding of my role within this community, in this team. Some aspects are tied in with the “state church” stuff and the establishment (and still pretty alien), some with the sense of being a part of something much bigger institutionally. The size still throws me a wee bit – at the clergy conference 2 weeks ago it was slightly overwhelming. Now its just big, and I am a part of it. Discovering where i fit in to this wider machine is part of the journey, and at the moment much is still shrouded in the mists of the unknown. Whether or not it becomes any clearer remains to be seen, but there is fun and excitement in the discovery.