Attachment to Where You Live Is Not Inevitable: Break Out of the Box.
Some people find everything they need on their doorstep.
It is as if those scenes of us languishing on bean bags in the sixth form common room, watching Aussie predict-the-script soaps, put a spell on our malleable young minds to keep our lives rooted in one area. We would have forever friends from birth to death; falling in love was only a stone’s throw away; and adventures came to us, we did not have to hunt them down!
I visualize my former neighbor’s mother religiously walking down the road, every morning, to look after her grandchildren, and the convenient maternal hands-on day-to-day support of a colleague, or the unchanged home addresses of past school friends. A pattern of familiarity emerges, and some weight is given to my notion that staying or remaining is the safer option; it’s what the majority chooses.
I was tasked with writing a story titled ‘It was the Place’s Fault’ by my English teacher in those formative school years. I am, probably like you, over the fact of blaming events, people and places. It suits me to adopt a let-it-be attitude to life’s difficulties and look critically at myself first, before pointing the finger at anything. It wasn’t so for my younger essayist-self.
Taking to heart that there was truth in this title, and a conspiracy against me because of a recent move, I wallowed in describing the unfortunate details of my short time in new surroundings.
Life lesson: I have since learnt that where you live is like a relationship with a partner. You have to be ready for the connection, unblinkered to the other’s imperfections, and draw only the good from them.
Attachment to a place is not inevitable. Why do I have a cousin and a friend in Australia, another who lived in Germany for a decade, an acquaintance in New York, and a few other contacts scattered around the United Kingdom, far away from where they grew up?
My work-leaving card stated It’s grim up North! and Take your brolly! And although there is a certain truth to those sayings, as I reach for my Vitamin D supplement and flatly cannot believe how wet it can be up here at times, I seem to have found a secret.
There is a satisfaction from being self-sufficient and reveling in solitude. There is a peace in where I live now. A new outlook. It has taken me years and a former relationship to get to this point.
Where I live is hardly on the up-and-coming list. It is underdeveloped, under-invested, and government cuts have been harsh. The media lens has tainted the image of it. Yet, there is realness which I find wholly refreshing, and my imagination is set on fire here, making me feel rich.
Amongst the litter grot spots, the symbolic Rest Park and the cenotaph on a roundabout for the brave fallen, the cheering and whistling sounds of footballers on the playing fields nearby, and affordable shops frequented by proud, down-to-earth people who struggle whilst still having big hearts, I am beginning to come to terms with my own tragedy — four lost heartbeats, and my brittle past. I am starting my journey.
Every day I walk up roads and see tram lines linked to the afterlife. My dog’s favorite park backs on to a cemetery, where I daily see grieving families huddled together by gravestones. There are too many funeral parlors, who are big business in this area. With the foreboding fear of what certainly faces every one of us, in close quarters here, I have gratitude for my living moments and being alive.
It was the pioneers who made settlements in new lands. They crafted new lives for themselves out of necessity. We are not reminded of them very often, but they built our new countries with their courage and resourcefulness.
I cannot help but wonder where we would all be if we did live more bravely and by the pioneering spirit of our ancestors. If we did not accept that it was the norm to live close to family and friends.
With the old order slowly disappearing and the idea that a job is not for life, perhaps the next transformation will be one in which we are truly mobile, unattached human beings, who never go back but relentlessly go forward in search of ourselves and the world around us.
Keri France is a sensitive and strong soul, who believes in the power of creativity for personal growth. Originally a southerner, she has returned to live in Manchester, after 19 years, and has found a new confidence since her relocation.