Writing from London.
It’s January 2016 and this is the twelfth time I have traversed the Atlantic Ocean to be “home”. Each journey brings a new emotion, a new range of bubbling feelings, new reasons to cry and new reasons to laugh. Old ones too of course, familiar faces and place and spaces. But it’s the newness that is surprising, the idea of returning to the place that shaped you to find its meaning has shifted in your heart.
I only know London as a child and so I don’t know how to behave here as an adult. In Vancouver I have an apartment, a partner, a car and a job. In London my parents drive me around and I still get pocket money from Grandma. It’s a luxury but it’s confusing. It’s warming and comfortable and safe but it means I can never consider London as home for adult-me, only a never-changing time capsule for my infant-to-adolescent self.
Here, I revert the cosyness of nuclear family snuggles and set meal times and old friends. There, I am an explorer, a never-changing wanderer, a fierce polyamorous queer lover and a walking embodiment of black activism. Here, I am held and loved but perhaps not as who I am but as who I was five years ago; freckled teenage angst, alcopops and carelessness. There, I am more… a scholar, a poet, an organiser, a social justice warrior, a nurturer, a community-builder.
I don’t think I am whole anywhere, but perhaps there I am closer to it than the stagnancy of what I am here.
Last night I went to a poetry night called Queer Qreations and things changed. My heart hurt with the sweet burn of familiarity mixed with rebirth and first-time fear. Queers performed. Queers of colour and of different abilities and with the grit of South London accents. I performed. I performed a poem I had written looking over the ebb of the Pacific Ocean and it was weird. It felt confusing, yet so effortless – is this what belonging feels like?
My queerness is so embedded in the snow-peaked mountains and temperate rainforest coastline of Vancouver that it almost knows no place in this grey and hard-edged city. It is there that I came out (and came in), that I fell in love with the same gender and with myself as I am, with blackness and queerness and radical communities.
I’ve learnt that my queerness and my adulthood feel synonymous and inextricable and now that I have witnessed a few magical moments of queer belonging on home soil I feel a sense of intimate growth within myself.
Feeling comfortable with this confusion is the hardest part.