People and places, revisited

Sunset in the winter garden

So I ponder this paradox: that I don’t love this city, find little beauty or joy in its many faces, and yet so many places in it remind me of love.

I wrote this a year ago today, two days before leaving Manchester.

These themes, of connection to place and connection to people have continued to preoccupy me in the past year while I have been writing this blog. Many people, I guess, though definitely not everyone will have a time in their life when they face this kind of split; when the people they love and the place where they feel at home are far apart.

As I have approached the anniversary of us moving here, I have been missing Manchester friends and family very much, both a wider group of people we had known over many years and a few, very close friends, and my daughter and grandchildren, whose company I miss every day.

And yet I wouldn’t go back. There has not been one minute, one time since arriving here when I wished myself living in Manchester again.

In Manchester I used to try to summon up a sense of homecoming as I approached my house, my street after being away; but my pleasure at coming home to my loved ones, my familiar surroundings, was always tinged with nelancholy. How odd to have lived in a place for so long and never loved it. Is it something wrong with me or just that we didn’t fit?

If I left here and came back, I imagine myself falling on my knees, digging my hands in the earth like an exile coming home.

In fact sometimes I want to do just that, even now: the earth looks so luscious in the bare, ploughed winter fields.

5 thoughts on “People and places, revisited

  1. Hello , I just discovered your blog from a comment you left recently on Lynn’s blog. This particular post really made me wish to comment (although having taken a brief perusal of your blog , looks like lots of things of interest and thought provoking) I could so readily relate to your feelings of having never really felt you belonged to a certain place despite having family , friends and a long history in that place. I did not grow up in one spot and traveled all my life until my father had to retire due to ill health after a long career in the military~ My parents settled in a place I never liked at all, nor have I come to ever feel a part of or connected in any respect to the place despite having lived here many years. My heart belongs entirely to a place which is beyond my reach at this time . I certainly have met others over the years who have expressed similar thoughts and feelings as you have here.(re: not belonging or feeling an alien in the place they grew up in ) I have long been fascinated by connections and why we respond so strongly to one place and not another~ It has very little I think to do with family or friends (although they can tie us physically to a place. ) I still am unsure of a definitive answer to this but know it does very much exist and something we cannot help but naturally respond to or not. I loved your last sentence about having the feeling at times, because you respond so strongly to the place you love, falling down on your knees and digging your fingers in the earth from sheer love of the place~ in the most visceral, physically tangible way. I had to smile in recognition of having both the exact same thought as well as having expressed it to people close to me. I think you are only the second person I have encountered though who has actually felt this feeling or expressed it. P.S. What a gorgeous photo too in your post about the light returning.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I find the whole area of connection to place, people etc so interesting. I suspect that other people do feel that visceral connection to a place, but maybe don’t say so out loud in case it sounds a bit silly or embarassing. I said something similar, more generally about the English countryside, in a post called Cross-country – and no one commented and I felt I had sort of gone too far! I don’t know if you know the Swallows & Amazons children’s books set in the Lake District – the author Arthur Ransome talked of how he and his siblings would arrive there for their summer holidays and straight away rush down to dip their hands in the water of the lake. I hadn’t thought about that for a while but remembered it the other day when I was thinking about wanting to plunge my hands into the earth.

  2. You are very welcome re: commenting. I could hardly keep from eagerly responding. You are probably right about other people having similar feelings regarding place and perhaps feeling some embarrassment expressing such. I do know however that there are plenty who do not relate and do think you are balmy! Yes, I am very familiar with Swallows and Amazons and of course can easily relate to the children’s responses. My love too is for the English countryside and my deep love for it began in childhood and never diminished. My imaginings did not really end with just digging one’s hands in the earth but actually embracing it as if it were human. I often think that when ever I am there . Thank you for replying and so quickly. Lovely to have discovered your blog.

  3. Reblogged this on Flat Earth, Big Sky and commented:

    Today is the second anniversary of starting this blog. I am re blogging two earlier posts – first, this one, written nearly a year ago when I was looking back and thinking about our first year here. Just now I should be cleaning some leeks, in preparation for a leek tart for a party on
    Sunday. We had a party this time last year – and felt a bit daring as we only just knew enough people to invite. I remember it as a lovely, cheerful day and am looking forward to this one, when a few more people will come. I am making the Spiced Salt Beef that I talked about in a post called Sugar, Spice, Memory.

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