I’m sipping Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
I realise this is a peculiar way to revive a blog after months of silence but it really is a damn good whisky.
One of my favourite bloggers said something about “connecting in a certain way over blogging”. Pete has an extraordinary knack for wording things in a minimalistic way that creeps up on you later on and inspires contemplation. The sort of stripped-down, unelaborate style that is the antithesis of mine. I wish I would write like that. There is something in my writing that slows down the process, forcing the reader to internalise. Work now, reap later. I have a peculiar relationship with language due to years of training in law and linguistics. I tend to over-intellectualise and get lost in abstract thinking. Every word is a bombshell, something to be picked at, thrashed around and bullied in a way that wouldn’t be out of place in a Navy SEAL hazing. Add a little OCD and it’s a miracle I can string two sentences together.
So, connecting over writing. It’s the sort of connection you make over an intensely personal pursuit. It sets you apart somehow, creating a community in which the terrible disease of loneliness is no more. A place where your scars don’t matter. If you don’t fit in, you can fit together. You can let down that weight into the ocean of imagination on which we are suspended. The ebb and flow of creativity evokes the idea of a shared life-force; we are brought into being by an act of creation, and it is this creation, once shared, once reaped, that harvests a passionate bond. Two of my closest friends are people I met online in a fiction-writing community. My old bandmate is my cosmic brother. All my close friendships boast a haven of repose in one way or another. It’s that creative synergy that flows and cross-pollinates between two sensitive souls, whatever their craft or damage. It isn’t exclusive, but it is special. Like coming home.
Maybe home isn’t a place, but a condition. Maybe it isn’t a place on the map but a story of the heart. A fabric interwoven with the people you love and the places you cherish. That place of peace that allows you to let go and freefall into a space that is separate. For most people this is their house. But I grew up in three countries and recently moved from Europe to the Middle East, so home has always been more of a state of mind than a physical dwelling.
I’ve never experienced a traditional community either, the type you see on television and in the movies. “Where everyone knows your name”. I’ve always been kind of jealous of those who grew up in a more traditional setting, with neighbours, extended family members and the vicar dropping in for tea. My own community existed within a more esoteric framework and was always fragmented due to friends and loved ones living overseas. This is my fate.
When people hear about my life they often say how cool it is that I’ve lived in different countries and had all these experiences, but they don’t realise the price I have paid. The price of roots, the price of a home, and the price of a community. I would relinquish all my experiences to feel rooted, for once in my life, to any one place. It is difficult to express the pain I feel because of this. My friends are always idealising other countries while demonising their own. I want to say it’s all the same. I want to say they’re deluding themselves if they think life ‘out there’ is any better. But I bite my tongue, because leaving a person to their delusion is often kinder. The world is sinking into a cesspool of despotism and the smell isn’t any sweeter in Paris. I give politics a wide berth. That doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion, but I see no point in debating those who are consumed by negative thinking. People who peddle negativity do so without taking cognisance of the slippery ground in which they are standing. They are part of the problem.
Leaving allows you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, and coming back, you may notice you have changed because others have not. I’m as much of an outsider here as I am on the other side of the pond. We are living in a rootless age. So many of us are exiles, shifting east and west, living out of suitcases and withdrawing into ourselves. Sometimes I like to step outside, get some fresh air and remind myself of who I am and who I want to be. When I do, I am always taken back to that which is a constant in my wandering life. Writing. My sanctuary stone. The ideas are home, the words my family. You are my community. And no one can take that away from me.
I never planned to abandon my writing. But sometimes it is elusive, like a lover who refuses to be touched.