Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Glasgow // Anywhere

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[source] // Ingeram Street, Glasgow

The Glasgow Necropolis in Scotland is a Victorian cemetery, founded 1832, on a prominent hill east of Glasgow Cathedral (aka St. Mungo’s Cathedral) Fifty thousand individuals have been buried in this informal parkland. FIFTY THOUSAND.:
[source] // Glasgow Necropolis
NB: Aberdeen is a city in the north-east of Scotland. The Clyde is a river that runs through Glasgow.

~***~

“I’m from Aberdeen,” he said.

“Really?” I smiled. “I’ve only been once, years ago. I didn’t see much of the city.”

His lip curled with delicate disdain. “You’re not missing out.”

This exchange took place in a car on the south side of Glasgow, and I’ve thought about it more since than I’d care to tell this Aberdonian friend. It sort of broke my heart.

How often have I had these conversations about home cities and hometowns? The rolling of the eyes, the sarcasm lacing the voice as they speak of this place they’ve come from, this place they only grudgingly call home. I have no affection for Aberdeen – I have only been once, as I said, cold, faraway city – but the urge to defend it came upon me in a sudden hot rush. Because if he does not love his city, where does that leave him?

I work in a cheap shop in Glasgow. Days pass in laughter, dialect, a lingering smell of cigarettes. As I tidy I read brand names idly: Anesia Paris. La Bottine Souriante, Made in Italy. Brightly coloured purses bear the cheap gold letters of a simple LONDON. 

How many of these women have been to Paris, to Italy? I’ve never visited either, and I’d bet most of my customers are the same. What is London? It is hours and hours on the train from Glasgow. It is a beautiful, bright, bewildering maze of tourist attractions and glittering lights, the subway a baffling tangle of colourful threads. It is a place to go for the weekend, a place to love with an outsider’s eyes, a place that ends when we step on the train at Paddington or Euston and return, hours north, to Glasgow Central. I would love to live in London one day, to know it not as tourist destination but as home, but for now it is only a brief exciting trip, or six gold letters on a wallet. Why would I want it, a city I don’t know and that doesn’t know me, emblazoned on my purse? Why would I want PARIS, when I’ve never even been, curling across my bag, my shoes? We should not want the transferred, hollow glamour of cities not our own, and yet we do, hence the stacks of foreign place names in my Glasgow shop

I think back to Aberdeen: “You’re not missing out.” Is it this – a lack of love for our homes – that drives us to the false arms of London and Paris?

I was not born in Glasgow, rather moving from England at the age of six to the countryside south of the city. But Scotland has adopted me, generous, both the city before me and the trees among which I live. My home is surrounded by fields and lakes, mountains blue in the distance on a clear day, the greens so bright they seem to sing, the lake where I go swimming sparkling and laughing or grey and pensive by turn. As the evenings draw in, summer days long with golden light or winter pressing early dusk into the windows, I can watch each sunset, every day, and see God here. As it is written, the trees of the field clap their hands for him, and so does the city, Glasgow, steep-streeted joy spreading over the silver Clyde. The buildings are a fresh prize each morning as I walk to work, thousands of hours’ labour and art in stonework and statues, and the people seethe with life, the city a living heart turning over and over as it is born again each day. To the west cathedral and necropolis rise, centuries of beauty and history looking out over Glasgow. My feet are planted here as growing things. I cannot imagine not having this sense of place, of home.

So it is I want to cry for my friend who doesn’t love Aberdeen, for the women who desperately butythe words London and Paris. Your home wants to love you, wants you to love it. Why resist it? When somebody asks where you’re from, that dot on the map to which you point is important. It has shaped you, breathed you out through its stones or trees or ocean. You are part of an inheritance of that place, a heart that beats among millions of hearts, souls of people living and people dead, all wound together by the home you share. It is yours, and this, identity, is a precious gift. Love it.

~***~

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Hope Street, Glasgow // my walk to/from work
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[source] // Glasgow University overlooking the River Kelvin
~***~

26 comments:

  1. THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!! I just love it too much :) And yeah, be proud of where you come from! It's shaped you more than you know, more than you may ever know and that's not a bad thing. (Although I have to disagree with you about "the false arms of London and Paris" because I absolutely adore those two cities and would visit again (and hopefully live there) in a heartbeat. Although I get the metaphorical thing you were going for there, too.)

    Also, little update, I'm about a 1/4 of the way through TCATT and it's awesome!

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    1. I'm so glad you like it! As for London and Paris ... I LOVE LONDON SO MUCH I CAN'T TELL YOU and I am desperate (with all the desperation of a thousand starving men) to go to Paris. Buuut at the moment they can never be to me what my home is. I think that's what I meant. Other places are lovely to visit, and of course other places might BECOME your home (I am VERY big on countries/places adopting people, Scotland adopted me after all), but for now they are not, and so putting your heart in them is not going to work.

      That's what I meant, anyway! XD

      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING TCATT! And so fast, too! <333

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  2. Very well said. This reminds me of when I was in college. People came from all over the country and world to go to there, this small liberal arts school in a small town. I lived close - I didn't need to live on campus because I just stayed at home. The school would always have something interesting going on, and although you were in a smaller town they usually had more going on than any other town of its size due to the school, plus you were only 15 minutes from a bigger town yet and 30 minutes from the capital city - there would always be school groups going on trips to those other places and beyond if the students wanted to try something different. Either way it seemed like us local students were always being told how horrible and boring everything to do with Ohio was from the kids from NYC or LA. Made us want to ask why there parents were bothering to spend thousands of dollars (if they didn't have aid or scholarships) per semester at a school in a place they hate. And, through that college the English, Theatre, and History departments put on a three week trip to London during summer break - I had the time of my life. The best vacation I had ever been on, hopefully I will get to go back someday! After a few days, some of the students on the trip with me were "over" London, which made absolutely no sense to me - some would want to run back to the flats where we were staying at and watch tv, sleep, or drink (those who were under 21 anyway) rather than thoroughly see the sights and explore with the rest of us. It made no sense to me at all. Anyway, one evening after our group went to the theater, we were eating at a restaurant and the topic of conversation turned where everyone was from/ bashing Ohio and it's small towns as well as how over London they were. Of course, when some of the more vocal ones finally turned to me (I was the only one from Ohio at that table - and rural Ohio at that) things got pretty awkward real quick!

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    1. Hooow could you be over London?? Thank you for such a lovely long comment, I can see you have experienced all this a lot! Your London story makes me think of a school trip to Madrid, when we went to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Gallery. It was wonderful, but the majority of the students (we were 14/15 years old), after drifting around for a very short time, just went and sat in the lobby. Some of them didn't even bother to look at the art all. Soon only I and two others were looking at the art, and then a teacher came and told me off because I was on my own rather than being in a pair! !!!! It was the only school trip abroad I've ever been on -- I wasn't in a hurry to go on another!

      I don't know much about Ohio but your uni sounds great. Hopefully I'll be able to visit some day!

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    2. I have no idea! That's crazy - going all the way there and not even looking at the art. Did the other kids get yelled at for just sitting there at least?

      It's a beautiful campus, especially this time of year. And, Ohio is certainly interesting - more than it gets credit for. :)

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    3. I don't think they did get yelled at! More's the pity ... XD

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  3. Good words, Emily!
    I love my little corner of the world. It's especially delightful this time of year. I've been there all my life, and I'm still awed by the panorama. I have learned its history and legends, and I would love to know even more.

    But I think the thing is that if we know a place too well, there is a danger of all its faults standing out. Then, when put beside a place that's beautifully advertised, those faults seem magnified (and the sparkle of the other place also magnified). But you have a point. I think a love for the hometown could help prevent illusions- and disillusions.

    Those are beautiful pictures of Glasgow, by the way. I can see why you love it there.

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    1. I too am rather awed by your corner of the world -- despite not knowing where it is -- from the photos you post! It looks beautiful. Living in the countryside is the best.

      That is true -- you get used to what you know and crave what you don't have. The grass is, as they say, always greener! XD

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  4. I very much agree with your sentiments. I consider where I've lived since 5 to be my home, since I don't have too many memories or connections to my original childhood home. It's an area that's felt a lot of economic pinches over the last twenty-five years or so. It was steel country, but the steel mills closed, and coal country, but many of the coal mines are now out of order. People are leaving (and have been for decades), and the city by my college is shriveling. It's one of the most-impoverished cities in Pennsylvania (the city is Johnstown). Heroin is a major problem. I want to stay here, and I want to help my area. It may not be exactly Johnstown (it's about twenty miles from where I actually live), but near home.

    Europe is interesting to me for distances. I drive a little over twenty minutes to get to school each week day, and sometimes I drive there and back twice in a day. My dad has an hour commute each way for the time being. We go 5.5 hours to Chincoteague Island, Virginia frequently and 16.5 hours to Orlanda, Florida about once a year. I'm not exactly sure how far London is from Glasgow, but I imagine it's around 5.5 hours. Could you get to Rome in 16.5 by car? I guess you'd probably go by train at least part of the way. For many Americans, travelling the length of Europe is routine, even by car.

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    1. Doing a quick Google search, Glasgow to England is about 6.5 hours by car, in theory. I guess I wasn't too far off.

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    2. Thank you for commenting, Patrick. It's great that you want to stay rather than turning your back on the place you love.

      London is four and a half hours on the fastest train, by car it's a bit longer. I would never even consider driving to Rome! Yes, perception of difference is very different, I guess because culturally you can make such massive jumps -- and jump between languages -- in, compared to America, very short distances.

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  5. Hey Emily! First of all, hi, it's been awhile. X) Second, Scotland has my whole heart, I love it so much. <3 Third, and this is really random, would you or anyone you know be interested in having the "Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy" game for the 3ds? Because once upon a time, we accidentally ordered the UK version instead of the US version, and it wouldn't play on our north american 3ds. We only realized that AFTER we opened it, though, so we couldn't send it back. So basically.....know anyone who likes puzzle games? XD

    p.s. it's nice to come see your blog again. I've missed being in the loop, even though it's my own fault. X)

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    1. Hi! Ha, thank you for the offer but I do not have a 3DS ... I did actually ask a couple of people but I don't think I am really Prof Layton's target demographic anymore! Thank you, though XD

      I miss you too, welcome back!

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  6. Sigh SO BEAUTIFUL!! I regret so much that I didn't get to this Glasgow when I was in Scotland a few years ago.

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    1. I regret that too! Maybe another time!

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  7. You hath been tagged! :)

    http://scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-q-tag.html

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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  8. Wow this really made me think, I used to not like my home town. I miss it now though.

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    1. I am glad! I'm sure you do, but you'll appreciate it more next time! Thanks for visiting <3

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  9. I am enamoured by the history and beauty of places like Scotland--lovely pictures, by the way!

    Very thoughtful post, too. I used to hold my hometown in a bit of contempt, but I've been coming to appreciate it more and more. I love watching the landscape change as the days go by--I get a daily panorama on my way to school. There's nothing like a prairie sky, I'm telling you! The range of color, from burning sunrises to washed out afternoon blue to somber banks of clouds letting pale pink and yellow through their seams... And all over endless stretches of fields and distant trees. It's quietly gorgeous.

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    1. Me too! <3

      That does sound quietly gorgeous. I am loving November here so much, let me tell you. I love your description of your view, I MUST SEE CANADA!

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    2. I'm actually loving my November too. Usually it's cold and grey, stuck in that dead state between autumn's last leaves and winter's first snow, but we've had some unseasonably warm days lately! (Lol, look at me waxing all poetic over here. XD) YES, YOU MUST. In the meantime, you've given me the idea of posting a photo dump of my area...

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    3. As of today it is officially sleeting! The past week's gold is over, for now ... YES, PLEASE DO! Would love to see!

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  10. Very beautiful! Beautifully written! I could see and feel everything. It's awesome that you love your home so much.

    I think people become disenchanted by their hometowns because they've seen too much of it. They've seen the good, but they've seen all the bad too. And if they've had bad experiences growing, the place can hold memories. (There's a place I used to work and I don't even like going in the building unless I have to.)

    I love where I grew up. But where I grew up is my home. Not really my hometown. And my home has changed so much since growing up, some of it is gone now. I kinda of like my hometown too. There are places that I miss and places that I have good memories associated with. But the general attitude of that town is not something I like it. It's kind of stagnant and the people often resist good change. Not to mention half the town is this odd mixture of redneck ghetto? XD Not all of the people are the same of course though (and some of those ghetto rednecks or whatever you want to call them are good people). It's just that the general attitude of the town is to aim low and never move forward to something better. Those who chase excellence are usually the people who leave town which is sad.

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    1. Thanks, Ashley, you are very kind! :*

      It's true. We don't appreciate something until it's gone, sometimes. It's that proverbial greener grass ... And you're right about the memories! Your experiences of a place definitely shape how you see it.

      Oh yeah, you've told me about the redneck/ghetto before! I'm sorry that your town is stuck in that rut, it must be very sad for you to see. Glasgow has a lot of poverty, it's a big problem.

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Thanks for commenting! :)