Friday, 3 October 2008


I was reading Caroline's archives last night, trying to remember what the alternative title for Black Boxes could have been. And I came across this post about belonging. And it made me think.

I'm not a Geordie. I wasn't born here, so I never will be. One of my friends has lived here since he was four, sounds as Geordie as they come, but he's not a Geordie. (Strangely enough he identifies as Scottish, even though he's barely lived there.) So B the girl who didn't move here til she was in her mid 20s
(18-21 aside) definitely doesn't count.

However, belonging is a different matter. I've written about this before, but I feel slightly different now. Now, I feel that maybe this place doesn't belong to me. But maybe that doesn't matter.

I wasn't born here - - but I had my formative years here.

My family isn't here - - but the family of the man I chose is - - my in-laws.

I don't have the accent of the place I was born - - I don't sound Geordie either (not even to those who don't live here), but some of the words have filtered into my lexicon.

I belong here, even if here doesn't belong to me.

Do you belong anywhere? If so, where? If no, are you OK with that?


SpiralSkies said...

Hmmmmm. I've lived in the same teeny tiny village for 6 years now but still don't belong. But when I went 'home' to Jersey in the summer, I didn't belong there either which I found terribly sad.

I hadn't minded not belonging here until I realised that now, nowhere is truly home which lends a certain impermanence to my life. Perhaps I just haven't found the right place me me yet?

I envy you in your settledness and belonging. It's an amazing feeling when it tickles your edges.

Janette Jones said...

I feel like I 'belong' to a few places, which is bizarre in itself. Whenever I drive by the Forest ground, it feels like home and I always have to go past, if I've been away anywhere. I feel like I belong in my family home and also in Crich, which was my Mother's birthplace. I definitely don't belong in the suburbs of Nottingham - don't know if it's because we always knew we were going to move at some point, but I've never felt settled there - can't wait to move and find somewhere that me and hubbie can put down some roots.

Stephen said...

I completely identify with what you say, B! Although so much of my family is Geordie born and bred, I came to live here when I was 10 and felt very much the outsider. My older brother took on the accent straight away, but it took me a long time to lose my Forces/North West special, which made me stand out like a sore thumb. But, after 23 years, I can't think of anywhere else as home. Even when I cross the Tyne to go to my parents' in South at Tyneside, I get a little misty-eyed at the sight of the bridges over the Tyne.

Caroline said...

A year after writing that post, I feel differently again. I may not have secure roots, but I have my children, Gary and a true sense of blonging with them x

B said...

Jen, sometimes teeny tiny villages are more difficult. This place is pretty huge, so it's not like I'm the only incomer this year or something. Do you think that you'll feel like it's home over the years, or that it will never change?

Janette, that is quite strange isn't it? But good, definitely, to have so many places to call home. I hope you can move somewhere that is properly home soon.

I think that getting misty-eyed at the bridges over the Tyne is one of the criteria for belonging here, Stephen. D does that too. He gets especially relieved to see them after we've been to my parents' house for the weekend! :)

Caroline, I'm glad you have your sense of belonging. Your roots are with your family rather than with a place, and in some ways that's better.

Calistro said...

Oooh I can relate to this question! Especially as a root-less ex army kid.

I've lived in Brighton for 10 years now (which is the longest stretch of time I've lived ANYWHERE) but I'm lucky in that there's not really any us vs them thing going on. Meaning, true Brightonians vs interlopers. I think that's because SO MANY people who live in Brighton aren't from here (it's a lot like London in that respect). I don't feel like I'm 'from' anywhere but Brighton is my home. Do I belong here? More than I've ever belonged anywhere else.

watching9987 said...

Do I belong somewhere? Nah, not really. But that's cos I'm special and quite possibly a bit upmyself - no where yet has been good enough for me.

I'm deep me.


Lane said...

I feel a bit like Jen in that I envy you your 'belongingness'.

I definitely don't feel any affinity to where I am at the moment and I've been here five years. It's just where I happen to live so it's home. I'm sometimes wistful about going back to where I grew up and I'm sure I'd feel more 'at home' there. Or perhaps that's just an illusion. It's all rather sad.

B said...

Cally, one of the things that's helped me is born and bred Geordies taking me under their wing. Not something I can imagine happening in Brighton.

If it's your home, that's pretty good. I never settled anywhere til I came back here. Now, this is just home, and that's all there is to it.

Nik, you're very deep, and a bit weird. But quite amusing.

I'm a bit worried now that I've made everyone sad! I didn't mean to. Lane, it's strange how five years is so long in some ways and so short in others, isn't it? I had a weird experience today with electricity pylons. Who knew that they can throw you back to childhood? Will post about that tomorrow, maybe.

dp said...

This looks like an opportune moment to stop lurking and say something.

Yeah, I do belong somewhere - but I don't know which place it is. More likely, it's several, and if I could knock about between them for the rest of my days I'd be happy there.

Where I am now is not one of them, and a pity all the more because I've been in this one spot a bit longer than anywhere else.

There is, however, a matter of places disappearing, changing, so that I can't go back to some of them, which means I have to stay here, or keep moving forward.

loria said...

I've lived in Michigan all my life, but as much as I love where I come from (along the coast of Lake Michigan) I go back now and feel terribly out of place. Although, Lansing never has felt like 'home'. It's felt like a residence and a place to put my things, but I've yet to really find a place I call home.

Merkin said...

Well, b, you will always get Brownie points for any connection with Geordie land from a Scot, like myself, even if you don't have the delicious accent.

As to belonging, that is a difficult one.

I returned 'short term' to Britain, by accident, after a number of years abroad. I had missed all of the "Blair transformation" and was shocked to see that the country had, in many respects, turned into a parody of a parody of a parody of Little Britain - hence my recent comments on The Trouser Press.

Where I am staying is 'fine' but I am not of this town and can never be.

Loria has it right 'It's felt like a residence and a place to put my things,. .'

Michelle said...

I can definately relate. Growing up, I didn't feel as though I belonged anywhere as my family moved around A LOT and also because I am mixed race (Native Alaskan and white) and then I moved away from America and have lived in England for the past 8 years. My whole life has changed (as has my accent) but I am still an American, even though I go into culture shock everytime I go back to the states.

trousers said...

I feel most at home (perhaps different to belonging) here.

HelenMH said...

I now live in the place where I was born - but following an absence of about 25 years. It's weird as I feel at home and not at home at the same time. But on balance, I'm glad I'm here and want to stay here for the rest of my life.

B said...

Hi DP and thanks for dropping in! Hope to see you again. Belonging in more than one place is no bad thing. I remember when I was at uni telling a friend 'I won't be home next weekend because I'll be going home', and contrived as it sounds now, it was true for me at the time.

Loria, you know exactly what my opinion is, but just in case you've forgotten: *MOVE TO THE UK!!!!!* :)

Merkin it really is a delicious acccent! the having moved away and back actually explains a lot - one of my sisters lives on the continent and I think it would be a huge nasty culture shock for her to return now after nearly 4 years. She has no intention of doing so anyway :)

Michelle, all that sounds fascinating. I will go back to your blog when I have more time. How often do you make it back?

Trousers, that's an interesting question; where is home vs where do you belong. With me, I think they are the same; they haven't always been though, and maybe it's a surprise when they do, for some at least. Also, lovely post; thanks for linking me!

HelenMH, that would be weird, to go back to the place I left 22 years ago! I do like to visit it every so often, but I don't know anyone at all there any more, and although I still think of there with fondness, I don't think I could happily move back. cf York, which I left six or so years ago, and I miss it and wish I could get back more often (visiting the weekend after next though!). Strage, isn't it?

Merkin said...

Well yes, b, I had been living abroad for near enough ten years when I came back.
(Culture shock is mild - particularly as I had never ever lived in this particular small town.)

I remember coming into the country, at one point, after a break of five years.

My only luggage was two plastic bags and I was looking 'rough as whatever' after a 60 hour journey.
The customs guy stopped me and said 'that is not much luggage after 5 years' and, not being in a great mood, I said something like 'yes, I am here to pick things up not to bring things'.
He actually asked me 'purpose of visit' and I nearly stuck my Brit passport where the sun don't shine.

I am sure my card is well marked.


trews, Clumber Park at 'your bit', was featured as a great walk in one of the papers yesterday.
Just fine.

Merkin said...

That should have been better said 'culture shock is a mild way of putting it . . . . . . '.

B said...

I was really confused by you saying culture shock was mild. Thanks for clarifying :)

JafaBrit's Art said...

I am a Geordie and whether I have lived in Texas, Ohio Maryland or New Jersey my sense of belonging was always rooted back to where my heart is, Newcastle. I live in a little village in ohio now, and sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a faux townie. I would say this place is the closest I have ever felt to belonging to a place.

B said...

jafabrit, i think newcastle stays with true geordies where other cities might fade into the dust. liverpool is another that is written into your DNA :)

loria said...

oh my dear B, you know it's my long term goal :)

seriously, i am thinking of a trip next year but i've been thinking of a 'trip next year' since 2001! i have to make it a reality.


B said...

I can't really complain Loria honey, I've never made it over to see you have I?! One day I swear xx

Jorgelina said...

I'm always late posting on your blog, B! I'm a procastinator at heart! Also, the subject matter is close to my heart and it's hard to think and write about it.
I want to belong, you see? I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, they took me home from the clinic and that's where I still live...or is it? I've always dreamt of coming to England, always dreamt of having an English love, loving the accent, loving the history, loving the language...then I met my Englishman. Some sort of dream come true, isn't it? Now there's a chance of living in England, with the accent, the history, the language...but I don't think I belong here. I love it here, but I'm not from here, you see? I want to belong; that way things would be so much easier! How do you belong? What makes you belong? How do you live somewhere even when you don't belong? My time is running out and I'll have to go back home to Buenos Aires soon, but a big part of my heart stays anchored for many reasons. It hurts, but I can't move.