‘That’s the funny thing about coming home, it looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realise what’s changed is you.’ Brad Pitt’s Benjamin Button hit the nail right on the head when he gave us that poignant little insight. It’s a weird anomaly coming home after you’ve been away. The first time I experienced it was my first trip back to the dazzling fishing town of Folkestone, the South Eastern peak of the UK that very almost brushes against the helms of Calais. Six years on from my departure, I stood forlornly outside my progressively dilapidating first home, the rose tinted glasses of youth had been snatched from my face and I was seeing the poor house for what it was, even after my Dad had dedicated too many years of his life to restoring and reviving the Victorian terrace. That’s not to say that my house didn’t look like a normal, slightly worn residential structure, as any other may do, it just was distinctly lacking any former grandiosity. There was a feeling of lost respect, like I’d been let down by a friend. Then, I discovered that this is just one of those sad revelations of adulthood; returning to a place of former familiarity and comfort very rarely offers you those same fond impressions of your childhood. Earlier last month, I spent three weeks with my sister in the town of my former life, pottering around the seaside and dragging my poor, unassuming toddler of a nephew over the hills and pastures of my bygone youth. Why is everything so small now? The high street, the canal we used to rent boats on and row down for hours, the once seemingly never-ending shingle beach that joins two neighbouring towns.
Perhaps London and its imposing majesty has ruined all the world’s smaller and less accommodating places for me. I’ve turned into the British pasty faced, apology muttering version of the quintessential New Yorker that truly believes you need not ever stray out of the confines of the island of Manhattan. And well, why not? London offers pretty much everything a person could need, short of the welcoming warmth of the Mediterranean, and an unobstructed view of the sea. Two things I do miss dearly.
It has only been four months since I left the Rock, and so this is by no means a monumental experience. Most people have spent almost as much time waiting on their appointments at the Primary Care Centre on any given day, but I stumbled across a noteworthy glitch in my theory lamenting returning home, the Rock did not appear any smaller. It is literally huge and never ceases to impress, stirring that sense of awe and pride that you know you all feel when you spy it out of the corner of your aeroplane window during the descent into Gib. The Rock will never lose its sense of familiarity, because no matter how much time passes, it remains somewhat the same. Whilst infrastructure, governments and seasons change, people and certain places certainly do not. Whilst this posed an annoyance when I lived and worked there, I find myself now welcoming the stubborn and unchanging nature of Gibraltar. I do, however, find that new tiny minute annoyances have risen from the depths of my psyche, having been spoilt by London living. Public transport is high on the list, particularly the distinct lack of taxis available throughout the night. If I had to wait that long outside Ministry of Sound in
Elephant and Castle at 2am, I would most certainly end up unwillingly in the boot of an estranged Audi by the end of the night.
The more time you spend away from home, the more used to your new surroundings you get. I know that seems quite blatantly obvious, but what I mean to express is that the things you are so accustomed to (that blissful warm weather and stretched out hours of daylight) seem so much further away and less desirable as you really settle in to a new routine. Everything is put into perspective and your reasons for being here far outweigh the desires to be back at home, in your old, prosaic regime.
February has swept over me with a staunch promise of real routine. Term two of my Foundation year comes with the return of my first real piece of work and the revelation that I need to work on my academic writing skills. Apparently, five years of penning news and features does not prepare you to formulate a response to why Shakespeare does anything. Whilst I am overall a very good writer (apparently), I need to work heavily on my essay structure and use of quotes. My integration of secondary sources, however, is fantastic, if I do say so myself. This term I have pledged to myself to get more involved in university related activities, including my new role as senior editor of our [smiths] magazine travel section. The mag, entirely student published is impressively professional and in true Goldsmiths style, appropriately quirky and eclectic and thought provoking. I’m back in the publishing game! This is a big deal to me. It took some months to realise how much I missed the whole magazine process; from coining ideas and writing, to proof reading and having design concepts bounced off me, all the way to the smell and feel of the final physical result.
Then, there’s working with other people again, this could go a long way in helping me to integrate more with my fellow Goldsmiths hipsters. Studying is really a solitary practice and strangely, I often find myself going days without running into any of my flatmates in our rapidly dirtying kitchen. In all truth, there are other times that I welcome the solitude of my delightful little room and the never-ending siren screeching of the outside world.
words | Nicole Macedo