I am home. I am home and back in my bed.
There is something dark in going on holiday to somewhere that looks exactly like your hometown. I can only describe it as being like running into your ex, your abusive ex, at a sit-down dinner with a lot of complete strangers.
This was a place that looked exactly like the place that fucked me up. Plastic signs on redbrick terraces, every shop either a takeaway or a bookie’s or a secondhand furniture place. Old pubs with neon signs, vertical drinking in places that could have ben so nice with half as many people, at a quarter of the volume. Cranes and half-gutted container ships looming over everything, little cobles stuck in sandbars that the owners would claim were daily runners but that probably hadn’t been out of the river-mouth in years. Caravan parks like shiny tumours, never quite spilling prosperity out onto the rest of the town. Dusty farmland in tiny patches, clinging on despite the pollution, crisscrossed with tracks from youth on scramble bikes and the police chasing them. Dead factories and scrubby patches of vacant ground, where corrugated tin sheds had been pulled down and left bare as “development opportunities”. And through it all the smell of mud and oil and seawater.
But worse – This looked to me as my old hometown looked to other people. Everyone I’d taken home, had seen… That. In me. Had seen me as part of it, shaped by it, with the stink of it on me. Horrible ugly place that I’d barely survived, and where every last interaction had left a scar, and it was on me.
I felt sick. I wanted to die. I wanted to curl up, put my arms over my head, and never come out.
All else this weekend – The midnight walk out to Haile Fort, losing my shoe in the Humber mud the day after, buying the motorbike, seeing the swallows flocking over the fields before their migration – is lost in that feeling of being back in hell.
But I am home, and back in my bed.