Recently, I was invited to perform on a piece about my hometown, which was difficult. I move around, a lot and been fortunate enough to call both the jungles of Belize and the austere coldness of Northern England home. Consequently, this has left me without a hometown and it was from this perspective I write:
A hometown is that place, anywhere, where you can go
and know that down a forgotten corridor, in a mess of
edifices and run-down, abandoned structures that a
small bakery sits, untouched, and you can recommend
the very best pastry to a total stranger, because this
space, these collections of builidngs and people and
their names are you, are a part of the things that make you.
I was on a shuttle, at midnight, travelling from JFK to
Grand Central when a man asked me where I frequent
in the City, and I couldn’t recommend anywhere but the
Met, or Broadway, or nothing he couldn’t get from a brochure.
Welcome to New York, and I suppose I’m as much as
tourist as you, sir.
I don’t have a hometown, don’t have a space I can
traipse around, and know where to find peace, where
I feel comfortable. All I’ve ever had is my memories
which are the only way anything feels familiar to me.
I was little in Los Angeles, when my parents had escaped
Belize to marry one another and, sitting in a shit shack,
somewhere in South central Los Angeles, a woman my
family knew very well told my mother about playing the
cheque game; she wrote bad cheques and tried to make
it to the bank, because that’s how she lived, in every city
she went. That shit houses, this woman who my mind’s eye
can no longer focus on feels familiar. It feels like a beginning.
Sitting in car, driving passed wide, open fields in the shotgun
seat of my best friend’s car, some voices shrill, some resonant,
following the beautiful melodies of Adele’s “Hometown Glory,” I
understand a hometown. Moving, constantly, burning petrol,
sitting, watching as signs, and ground falls into view, and falls
behind us is my hometown. It was a comfort and a continuity.
This car, red, the people, brilliant, the sunset, glorious, are what
I would recommend to you, if you ever find yourself in Texas.
The coast of Yorkshire, Scarborough, which to me felt was a
stranger, and I’ve only ever seen but once is to me a hometown.
The stormy moors of Yorkshire, the tumultuous seas, and the icy
embrace of the water’s breathe on my lips felt like a long lost friend.
Or maybe it felt like the park you go to with you parents as a child.
So much to do, running around and seeing other little people,
all enjoying their lives, and inviting me to frolic with them.
I made friends that day, a Polish girl, a girl from Latin America,
and a boy who’d lived in England all his life. Our parents
bought us a stuff animal, Penis the Dolphin.
Every aeroplane feels a little like home, especially take off
and landing. The jarring rumble of a plane escaping into the
air, and the view you get thirty minutes before landing.
All cities are strange and in that become familiar to me. Strange
cities are my nomadic lifestyle’s one constant.
Bruxelles feels like a hometown because even though I couldn’t
take you anywhere beside a tiny military base that houses a
school for the children of Americans working for NATO, it was
boring, the way you feel bored when you go home. There was
a consistency and an ease with which I moved about, and everyone
I ever met there was from somewhere different, like me.
My hometown is me, and all the experiences I’ve ever known because,
you return to our hometowns and we understand them and I
can only ever return to myself.