My town: perhaps you just outgrow a place?

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Decisions - location, Devon, Travel
Tags: , , ,

One of the chief motivations for not indulging in Friday night debauchery yester eve was the lure of awakening free from the gradual crescendo of an alcohol-induced headache.  After a week including two experiments with this fasting diet malarkey and two new gym regimes, I was severely tempted by the prospect of not having to apologise repeatedly to my body for trying to annihilate it with ale and cigarettes.

I awoke half an hour ago with a smile on my face.  I mean, I was actually smiling.  I had just roused from a long and dream-filled slumber naturally: without the affronting clamour of my phone alarm rudely dragging me into the 6am darkness.  Today, it was 7.45am and a dull but evident November sunshine was at least trying to creep through my pale curtains.

The morning is now my oyster! I have a few ‘got-to-do-as-these-things-can’t-be-done-during-the-busy-week’ items on the list to get done but then it’s over to my lovely town of Dartmouth to sooth and entertain my weekend self.

Only it’s this lovely town of Dartmouth that so confuses me.  I have now 37 days until I leave to go travelling, complete with the nagging pit-of-the-stomach burn that this is the place I’ve been the happiest since I left school: it’s woods, river and sea are beautiful and it’s locals, albeit mostly alcoholic, say hello when you pass them by and are always pleased to see you when you walk in the pub.  All the things that had me move here from London four years ago.

My feelings about the place have always peaked and troughed: peaking typically in the summer with the sun-filled beer-garden days of the music festival, ale-sipping on the grass in the park, running to the beach for the afternoon and long daylight hours.  The winter months, although I often prefer the dirth of tourists cluttering our small town, come with an often unwelcome reality-check that it is just you and a handful of 40 or 50-something drunks sitting around the bar and last time you mentioned anything of interest (books, films, art, travel, food, education, society, the list goes on), the nearest person slurred a derogatory discouragement from entering into any conversation ‘so intelligent’.  Better still, if that person happens to be the famous ‘Daggers’, I’d be informed, in no uncertain terms, I had an ‘attitude problem’ and asked why I think I’m so intelligent.  Put that way, I’ve made it hard to see the charm of the place!

There is charm.  There definitely is.  I’ve have acquired a smile-inducing plethora of unforgettable experiences here! Far more fondly remembered than anything I ever took from three years at university.  Age and drinking-habits aside, there are some real gems in this town: people who themselves have travelled, who tell stories and who look after each other.

But perhaps you just outgrow a place? Previous visits to London and Bristol (over the last five or six years) have always had be clamouring to return to my lovely Dartmouth.  I’d wake up on the Saturday morning and wonder where my river was and what I was doing in this unfriendly smoke-filled urban hell.  I visited London four weeks ago and Bristol last weekend.  I had the usual feeling.  But far less evident.  And what really got me was how much I loved being in both cities.  How exciting the endless possibilities to soak up and revel in culture, to speak to people who might be excited as I am about a book or a film or travel or art or anything!

Naturally, I’ve always known this is supposed to be one of the lures of the city. But never felt it before.  There’s one thing for sure: I owe Dartmouth a lot.  I came here from London quite depleted after three years in a university I disliked and two years in London which I liked but on first-year-teacher wages simply couldn’t enjoy.  My first year in Dartmouth was by far the best year I have had so far.  Dartmouth gave me back my confidence, sense of adventure and creativity.  But perhaps you do just outgrow a place.


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