I learnt a place is, sometimes, just a place. When I got back to the city I’d lived in for the last nine years, I saw all the buildings and streets and darkly-lit geography and thought: “This is a place.” That was it.
I had first moved here because it was one of the only places in the world where I’d immediately felt at home. Returning this week, I felt the same – but it wasn’t my home. Home has become a nebulous and physical concept. It’s become embedded in my body, in the relationships I have with other people, in the way I choose to occupy a space. While I was away, I had the fortune to spend time as a local in the places I visited. I saw the cities as places, not hot-spot-must-rush-round tourist destinations. These exotic locales became, quite subtly, just places. And a place – rather than a Destination with a capital D – is a lot easier to join, be part of, and leave.
I learnt I am not interested in a lot of things I used to be obsessed by. I do not care any more about that which once thrilled me. One of these, which was most apparent as I got into King’s Cross and heard a businessman getting his pinstripes in a twist on the phone, is how people run their businesses. I used to get incredibly stressed thinking other people knew sod all about their business and about marketing, and why this was such a problem and why couldn’t they just get better and yadi yadi yah. Now – I do not care. I care about helping people, wherever I can, and people who don’t realise they lack skills think they don’t need help. My interaction with them is limited, so who cares?
I am no longer interested in is The Small Life. The Small Life is the life where tiny issues get re-told like they’re worthy of BBC News coverage. I want to hear people’s problems and help if I can. But talk to me about your Big Life instead: who are you? What do you want? What matters to you? What have you learnt recently?
I learnt what I am interested in, and what I do want to talk about (just in case I sound like I’ve given up on human contact). I want to talk about art and culture. All day, every day. I want to visit galleries and discuss work. I want to watch films and listen to music and explore them with people. I want to consider art and dream about art and look at art and read about art. Most of all, I want to make art. I want to make art all day, all week, all year, all my life. I want to help other people make art. This is it, now. The art. I want it, and I want it so much.