This is a Literary Cities post from Stacey Teague.


 

"Her horizon seemed to her limitless." - Virginia Woolf

The moment I stepped off the plane, I got this really heavy feeling, as if being at the bottom of the world allows you to feel the weight of the rest of it. I looked out at the harbour and the ferns beyond the windows after I got off the plane. A bikini-clad woman was advertising some brand of vodka. It felt bad. I tried to compose myself on the way to the arrival’s gate, where a beagle sniffed out the remnants of a banana in my backpack. I suppressed the urge to pat the beagle as I read somewhere that you aren't supposed to. I stepped through the gate dragging my broken suitcase and saw my family waving at me and grinning. My niece had made me a card with love hearts drawn on it.

In the car on the way home it all looked the same. It felt like I'd never left, but I had. I'd seen the world and experienced a lot of different things. Back here in my home town none of that meant anything. No time had passed. Everywhere I went there are reminders, of the things I left behind, of the self left behind. It is hard not to inhabit the body that was left here.

Time passes slowly. I live in a room at my parent's house, a house they had bought after I left. I live with my mum, dad, sister, her partner and their two kids. I'm happy because I get to spend time with the kids. When I'm with them it's one of the only times where I genuinely know that I care for something. Lately it's been getting harder to know that. I can't trust myself. I try to care and I find that I can't, or don't know how. When I'm holding my nephew, there is nothing ambiguous, it is just pure love.

When I write I am quiet and I can hear the tui outside my window. I write about other places, other people, other things, otherness. I can finally look at the past 2 years of my life in England with clarity of mind. To me that is what this place is about. A place to feel comfortable, free meals, time to reflect. A pit stop on the way to something else.

I think of my time here as an exercise, a chance to remember how to be alone and feel okay with that. The most important thing to aid this is reading. I'm always comforted to know that I can just read a book and it will be fine. More solitude just means more time to read books. Something which, in the past, has seemed like a luxury that I can’t afford.

With each day I feel myself retreating more inward, resolving to do more things on my own. It makes me feel aware of how being alone is "frowned upon". Every time I tell my parents I am going to do some activity, going for a walk, to the shops, to the beach, they ask, "by yourself?" The truth is that I feel I have always been solitary, but never felt okay with being that way. I want the time that I spend back "home" to be the time where I finally feel okay about being whatever I am.

I'm not sure if this is home. It is where I'm from and it is a huge part of my identity, one that I can't shake no matter how hard I've tried. I used to think that England was home. I used to think that friends or boyfriends were home. Friends and Boyfriends and Houses are not permanent things.

Something that I've been thinking about so much since I've been in Auckland is how you can share your life with another person in the long term. That is a normal thing for everyone to do, but to me it seems so counter-intuitive. It is grand and unachievable. I admire and am jealous, if not a bit pitying, of anyone who has that so-called 'forever-love'.

I'm not so isolated here; I have family and friends. But there is something about the landscape, the lush green of the forests, the desolate beaches that inspire me to be by myself, and to be stronger for it. I feel just as powerful walking down a street with nothing but trees and bird song, than I did walking down any London street. It's an important realisation to have, that you can find yourself in any place, that your horizon is limitless.


Stacey Teague is a poet from Auckland, NZ. She blogs at http://staceyteague.tumblr.com/

samvanz's picture

samvanz

Sam van Zweden was Writers Bloc’s Online Editor from 2013 - 2015. A Melbourne-based writer and blogger, her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Tincture Journal, Page seventeen, and others. She’s passionate about creative nonfiction and cross stitch. She tweets @samvanzweden.