When people ask me where I’m from, I’m always forced to give a fairly convoluted answer, which is complicated by the fact that most people don’t actually know where the place I refer to is.
‘Well, my parents live in Hereford,” I’ll say. “But my Dad was in the army, and I was born in Cyprus.”
They don’t even live in Hereford, really. They live in Herefordshire. In a small rural village which might as well be on the dark side of the Moon. But it’s just easier to say Hereford. And even then, that’s usually followed by, “It’s between Wales and Worcester.”
I’m not from Hereford, though. And I’m not from Cyprus. I was just born there. And the exotic places I ended up following the bi-annual moves for my Dad’s job? I’m not from there, either. I went to university in Wales, and while I love the place, I couldn’t say that’s where I’m ‘from’.
My Mum has the same story, being half Polish, half Irish, born in Germany and living in Russia. Dad to some extent the same.
So I’m not from anywhere, really.
This is fine with me, most of the time. Bit more interesting than spending your whole life in Slough or whatever. But occasionally – and usually when I’m packing up to move again – it becomes a bit of an issue, just ever so gently scratching at the corners of my consciousness. To be without any geographical roots, or without a real place to call home, can make you feel a bit weightless – as if one of the things that ties you to your reality is missing. I sometimes envy my friends who have a real allegiance with their hometown, or a familiar place to escape to when they need time out. When the shit hits the fan it’s something to hold on to. A core element of their identity to keep them grounded. Or at least that’s what I imagine it would be like. I don’t know.
So as I type this, sat on the floor surrounded by boxes, I’m trying to get myself geared up to uproot and start again somewhere else. Again. I know London won’t be for me in the long-term, but I’m hopeful that this time I won’t have to pack up again before the dust settles.