Beyond Our Horizons

After all the years I’ve spent in this town, I still feel like I don’t belong here. As I stand on a pavement, the road and buildings slope away in every direction — grey, dusty and characterless. You feel the night waiting beyond the horizon. People stay hidden behind their defences, and in a shop or office, all is distant incomprehension.

Last night I was watching something on TV about three young people attempting the craft of weaving for the first time. One of them was doing spectacularly well; really engaged in it, doing his research on the internet and getting it just right. Then suddenly — just when he was supposed to prove himself in order to win a further opportunity in weaving — he had a slump of depression (he’s bipolar) and felt so unmotivated that he just went away and slept.

Sometimes I think pressure (even a little of it) pushes you into that… you think “I’ve got to do this well, now,” so you turn everything off and disappear.

Have got through a nasty cold and am slowly sorting out books.

Found an old ‘Christian Year’ Birthday Book (printed by Frederick Warne and Co!) that belonged to my great-grandmother Jessie. She got it on her 15th birthday, which is just 8 days away from mine (different year, of course!) She was conscientious about adding family birthdays (and deaths) — my father and his siblings were in the book. Of course their dates of death aren’t marked; she herself was long gone. I was glad to see that, as though it somehow makes them forever young and alive.

I lay awake and thought about ‘Jessie’ and the names she wrote down, kept safe since the late 1880s. Her book was right there in the drawer beside me, a small link to the past — and all of a sudden the dark felt more inhabited and friendly.

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12 responses

  1. I can relate to that. with the exception of 3 years my life has revolved around my home town (I lived outside of it when I bought my flat but Mum & Dad lived there and I was only 9 miles away). BUT I don’t feel I belong

    1. I wonder how many people feel that way, and why? Maybe cities and towns are not really natural habitats… just musing.

  2. Hearing the story of your Christian Year Book made me smile. 🙂

  3. My husband deals with that sometimes…he gets good at something and puts a lot of work into it…and then the sheer quality of work and fear that you might fail is enough to send himrunnning off to hide for a while…fear of success and fear of failure can be tricky things…

    I think the size of a place can really dictate how homey it feels. Small towns seem so much more cosy. Larger cities allow for people to turn you into an object and isolate themselves. I find it hard coming from a small town to not look people in the eyes and smile and say hello. I get a bit hurt when people don’t do the same…

    1. I find people do the same even in this town — perhaps it’s just big enough to not feel homey. It’s also difficult when you’re born in a bigger place and don’t quite understand how differently you’re expected to behave in a smaller place. (I was born in a bigger place, so I find that. 🙂 )

  4. The better you get at something, the further you realise you have to go. Better just to be un-self-conscious and do it for the sake of doing it.

    If you know what I mean. :-/

    1. I keep thinking about what you said here… keep meaning to try, but it’s not working yet. 🙂 It seems easier to do the laundry and read a book.

  5. I feel like I don’t belong in this country! I feel nothing for it.

    1. That sounds even more unsettling. 😦 Maybe it’s because so many houses (in any given town or city) look the same.

  6. I’m echoing Thomas – hearing about your birthday book made me smile too 🙂

  7. Hi Diddums,

    came on an off-chance and find you talking about home. Was just on another site speaking of the same thing. It’s run by a Jungian Analyst and he is discussing people’s concept and bond with whatever “home” is. It’s very interesting, and can be found here:

    http://www.vibrantjungthing.com/

    I also like the idea of a birthday book, but I’m fairly certain that although I might eagerly begin such a thing, my interest would wain and it would go the way of lots of other things. But, I especially like the fact that you can hold in your hands, something which holds your great-grandmother’s writing. I have little or nothing that goes that far back in my personal history, and might even be one of the reasons I did a History Major, among other things, in college. Stories, in whatever form, intrigue me.

    Elizabeth

  8. Ah, thanks for the link! I’ve often thought about what is defined as ‘home’. Sometimes you can feel fully at home in a house or maybe a room, but not in the actual town. In my case agoraphobia might be an issue, but it’s hard to see beginnings and endings… and it does seem to be fairly widespread: people no longer feel they belong.

    Talking of having these handwritten mementos of older relatives… I found myself wondering if there had been journals and more informative notes, letters and books which have gone to others in the family. You don’t necessarily know that they exist (or used to). 😉

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