I’ve been thinking a lot lately about places and things that are really important to me in life. If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll remember that I’ve talked about it a bit before. Places are full of sights, smells and sounds that enable us to replay key memories in our lives. I remember, for example hearing the crunch of the gravel when we used to run in our front driveway, falling over, the tears having to be patched up and kissed better. Then the gravel was replaced by stone. The smell of cinnamon always reminds me of our Christmases, I’m not really sure why. The wood next to our house, the earthy smell that no one can quite define, the elusive llama and trickle of the stream embodies our childhood, spent making dens, wading around in wellies, playing Pooh Sticks on the little bridge, the time we followed a GPS system, and walked in the river for about 15 minutes, until I discovered my boots had a hole in, and my feet were getting rather wet. Insignificant memories perhaps, but memories all the same.
And as such, the places that are key in our lives have tremendous impact and influence over our lives. It is often said that we have less than 5 places that are integral to our lives, and we spend our lives more or less rotating around these places. So it’s always hard to adapt when one of those ‘key places’ changes. Perhaps you move house, and are faced with unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. Perhaps a place where you’ve always harboured good memories hits you with a series of bad ones. It’s unnerving, strange, something we want to escape. And it’s so easy to run away. We are stuck between the loyalty to the place we love, and our instinct to flee.
These past few months, places I thought I knew like the back of my hand, places where I felt secure, accepted and happy, have surprised me. Instead of all the good memories I can so easily recall there, my mind seems preoccupied with the recent bad memories. And the changes there are largely out of my control. I want to make a difference, but it’s not something I can do. There are several times where I’ve just wanted to leave it all behind. And I was stuck. I had the decision, I could have made the choice to go. But I decided to stay. Both times.
And even though I made that decision twice, I was still angry. I still am, somewhere, sometimes, angry. Upset. Disappointed. Angry with the bystanders, that they recognise what they see and do nothing. Angry with those above me, who let me down. Angry with the perpetrators, that they continue to spread gossip or lies. Disappointed in what I believed to be a community purely good at heart. Upset that I can’t do anything, and just have to ride the storm.
And when I’m angry, I write. It helps. I don’t know why, because it means I replay things over in my head and I usually get more upset whilst I’m writing. But after I have, I feel better. I write letters, to the people I’m angry with. And when I read them over I laugh. I write poetry. And then I share it with you, in the hope that somewhere, for somebody, it might help. It might strike a chord to help them to see things more clearly. Help them to understand a part of the community they no longer see. Help them to see that they are not alone.
I was told recently that ‘You are a child. How can you understand?’ I know that. I don’t understand everything. I only see a fraction of what goes on. But children are perceptive. They can feel raw emotion. They touch the anger invisible to everyone else. They can form an opinion. And they can have a voice. So here is my voice. And I might get it wrong. And I might not understand. But just maybe, I might get it right.
I wrote this with one key place in mind. But as is the way with poetry, I realised that actually it applied to the other too. It is entitled Purgatory.
Do I leave you behind,
The place that I loved,
The place that I learnt,
The place I found my God?
Do I stay with you, my sanctity,
Shrouded with lies and deceit?
Two factions at brutal war.
Each day another forsaken seat.
They hide behind a veil,
Infernal anger, bitterness and fear.
Leadership they trusted,
Seems to have led them but to here.
The joy that I knew,
The laughter and the love,
But yet I do not blame you,
I know not where this began,
Perhaps our perfect snowball just spiralled
Out of control.
I want to stay, to see you through,
To bring back the life I once knew.
But the gossip and fractures,
Twisted truths and covered lies
Maybe you don’t see this,
Or maybe you don’t care,
Maybe I’m just growing up
And my world isn’t perfect
But this is not my community.
This is not my faith.
I renounce it.
But yet I cannot turn away.