Belonging

This photo was taken yesterday, when the air was clear and cold. Today it was grey and cold and smelled of woodsmoke. The neighbourhood cats with green eyes and pink mouths wait on corners and cry out when we walk past. Purple thistles burst out of their cases and the chestnuts ripen. There are patches of yellow on the trees but the best is still to come. It is dark by 8pm. This is a novelty.

At the closing session of the conference I went to last week, Peter Porter spoke about belonging. How after forty years in England, he can’t call himself English, but that London feels like home. It’s funny, the way places creep inside of you. I’m not English either, but I feel that I belong to the North of England far more than say, someone from the South of England does. Some Southerners think of the North as a far off, wild place, barely civilised, and they never visit it. York got inside me very quickly, and I still feel a rush of at-homeness when I approach its walls. Leeds took longer. It was a place of exile. But – this last time – I felt I belonged.

And what of this little town with its glassy light and odd shaped islands? The seasons fold over one another, the dark chases the light and the light chases the dark. And there is a home somewhere in this, too.

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2 thoughts on “Belonging

  1. The concept of home is complicated, isn’t it. Apart from a place in the ocean, I felt a peculiar rush of “oh, I’m home” when I visited a town in England last year. It was so very strange.

    I have a certain sensitivity on the subject, because sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge that some people will never return to where you think their home should be.

    Roots enter the earth in different ways, wherever you are. Seems you will grow in many places!

  2. yes i think belonging grows with you, it’s not fixed…

    it’s nice to think about it from a personal angle, rather than the slightly abstracted way i use it in my thesis…

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