This is the street where it all happened. Nothing tragic, no more so than anyone else. This is the place. I remember it all, every day it seems, I keep telling myself that . We all have places like that, a street that you visit every day for a year, somewhere that matters. Then, when a lot of time has passed, you come back to it, but it isn’t the same any more and you start to wonder if you aren’t remembering it properly. Or has it changed? Thinking about how that tree got cut back or how they’ve repainted the gate whilst you weren’t there and it feels like a small betrayal.
Here. These are our places, but they aren’t ours for long. I wrote the above paragraph about 12 years ago, processing a huge thing that was very much happening to me, the echoes of which continued for years. And I dealt with it (and it wasn’t really that huge, not compared to what some people deal with) by choosing my places carefully, new ones that I chose to be in, letting go of old ones.
Here’s another space. Some random liminal retail park, but once, it was something else. Once, I stood on this spot, right here, with a woman with very very red hair, and we drank really bitter awful coffee and smoked bitter awful cigarettes and perhaps she liked me and perhaps I liked her, but I really don’t know and it was several lifetimes ago. I don’t remember my own face then, I don’t remember hers. And there’s no trace left of either of us, and the place we used to sit and watch the dawn burning the frost away, that’s lost too.
And I’m really happy about that. I don’t want old places. I want the new ones, the ones I’ve chosen. Ice on the wind, and redblack mornings, oh, I remember the bitter and when I’m feeling tired I miss them, but I chose older and newer places for myself in the end.
Remember this street in that summer, not so long ago. If it was years and years ago, things change enough to make it bearable, but not when it’s only two years gone. Not far enough away. A hot summer day. Now it’s winter, fading into January and you didn’t spend Christmas here. Fog in the air and the amber lights shining on, lonely, trying to pretend to be the summer sun.
And it was after writing these words that I found Here, an old, old place. Fields and woods, looking down over a valley. Old graves, hidden stones, water breaks the land apart. The wind screams sometimes, speaks to the skin like a knife, teaches the joy of magpies. Suddenly, that old world of amber lights was just a dream. Here is where I’ve always been, Here is where I always will be. In the places that I choose, that weren’t just arrived at. Queer, expressing my love without expectation of response, or need to have it returned. Freedom for the heart that’s been hidden, and kissing anyone who likes to kiss me. In this place. Here.