Is anyone still tuned in? This station as good as went off the air for a while there, didn’t it*?
Those of you who follow me elsewhere (most notably Twitter) will be aware – to a greater or lesser degree – that the last six months have been pretty bloody miserable for me; while I’ve made a handful of good friends up here in the Manchester area, living on my own in the rotten heart of an economically collapsed Northern industrial town has taken a considerable emotional toll. In short, and in the name of avoiding a drama-trip: I’ve been lonely as all hell.
The events of the last year-and-a-bit have taught me a lot of things about myself, many of which I’d probably not have chosen to learn, but all of which (I must assume) I’m somehow better off for having discovered. The largest and most pertinent of those is this: home is not defined by geography. It is defined by people.
The very title of this here blog represents the long and lingering love-hate relationship I’ve had with Southsea since moving there in 1994 as a callow and socially inept teenager. I’ve always resented it, for some reason I was unable to explain; why was I (like so many others) stuck to it, seemingly unable to tear myself away? Sit down and make a list: Southsea doesn’t seem to have much going for it, really. A cultural ox-bow backwater, cut off from the mainland both symbolically and physically, Britain’s only true island city; economically deprived and politically raddled; overpopulated, underfunded, and largely ignored by the world outside; faded, crumbling, caked with cheap make-up to flirt with the 21st Century.
See? Still doing it now, aren’t I…
So why am I not glad to have left it behind? Well, the circumstances haven’t helped; discovering that your main reason for doing something was predicated on a lie can give you something of a jaundiced view of things, to say the least. But there’s a gift in the gutter, and it shames me to never have realised it was there all along. When you spend half your lifespan in one place, you become a part of the network of people that makes that place what it is. There are a multitude of Southseas, of course, mapped in the minds of the people who walk their streets each day, but they overlap like Venn diagrams. Once your own set is embedded and interlaced with enough others, you end up living in a sort of consensus reality: the city’s geography becomes governed and filtered by the social networks you move within.
(As a side note, I rather suspect this happens in non-geographical spaces – e.g. fandom – in a very similar way. A riff for another time, perhaps.)
I could waffle around this idea for hours (no change there, then) so I’ll cut to the point: being stuck here in Purgatory for half a year has made me realise how important my meatspace social networks really are to my psychological well-being… not to mention how much I owe to so many excellent people. It’s one thing to stay at home of an evening because one doesn’t fancy going out, but quite another to stay home because you’ve no one to go anywhere with. I can’t believe quite how much I miss Albert Road Syndrome: stepping out of the house for ten minutes and inevitably bumping into at least one friendly face, even if only in passing. I miss the sense of belonging; I never recognised it for what it was when I had it, possibly because I moved home so often as a kid. I miss my people. I miss my home.
Yeah, you can see where this is going – I’m a master of foreshadowing, me. My tenancy on this rotten garret expires on Easter weekend this year (April 23rd, St George’s Day); as such, I aim to be back in Velcro City by that date. I’ve learned what I needed to learn, and now it’s time to act on that lesson.
And so: Operation Get-The-F*ck-Back-Where-I-Belong is go. If you’ve any advice or assistance to offer, our switchboards are waiting for your call… and the Peripatetic Tourist Board of the Invisible Manifold City will be re-establishing a broadcast schedule, however erratic it may turn out to be.
Don’t touch that dial. 🙂
[ * A lingering malfunction with the Delicious autopost plugin emphasised that somewhat, but its usefulness was starting to wane, and recent rumblings from Yahoo suggest that relying on Delicious long-term is not a future-proof plan. Selah. New year, new tools; adopt, adapt, improve. It’s time I wrote more stuff manually, anyway; curation should be something more than mere collection. ]