Identity is a funny thing. It’s something that we, as humans, are in a constant struggle to find and yet we only have a vague idea of what it actually means. You know what’s coming here. A rambling and sprawling piece of opinion writing that nobody asked for. But fuck it. I’m gonna get paid for doing this one day. And also, nobody has ever asked me to stop.
A sense of belonging is what I think it is. As we all know and are well-versed by now, I come from the less-than-glamorous surroundings of North East Lincolnshire, with all its derelict fishing docks and unique looking people. That, itself, is my identity. Whether I like it or not. But- and it’s a Zinedine Zidane of a butt- that doesn’t feel like the place I belong to. Cue the unsurprised murmurs from my regulars. “Here he goes again, having a go at his hometown while he sits in luxury with his fat student loan”. Oh, you.
What I’m getting at is this: there is something that seems to hold me back. When I went on holiday to Amsterdam, I felt more contented than I had anywhere else in the world. That laid back summers day when I laid in Vondel Park, as high as a helium balloon making its way through drops of Jupiter, with not a care and not a worry was perfection. I didn’t worry that while I fell asleep in the Dutch sunshine that some opportunist pickpocket was gonna dip my pockets and nab my loose change to go spend on smack. I couldn’t have given less of a fuck about anything. I was at one with my surroundings. If this is sounding too hippy-ish for you then why don't you go and read Katie Price's autobiography; yeah you'll really see some profound thoughts in there...
That was such a blissful feeling that I’m probably gonna be driven to madness trying to recreate it. I remember just being on the metro on the most beautiful city on Earth with enough mind-bending substances inside me to take down a small elephant and I felt happy. I felt good. I felt like I, you’re ahead of me, belonged. It just was. Even as a creative writing student, finding the words to describe that sensation is almost as impossible as finding a virgin in Scunthorpe. The only thing I can think it was is that I belonged there, somehow. Like I could just go and live there and carve out a living doing literally anything and I’d be happier.
They say never go back. But who the fuck are ‘they’ and why do ‘they’ tell you what to do? Whenever I tread the mean streets of Grimsby’s East Marsh or the rain-soaked pavements of Crewe, I don’t feel that same sense of belonging. I feel more like I’m being held back in some way. This is absolutely not another unnecessary dig at my place of birth (although I could go on about that for DAAAAAYS), I’m just curious to figure out what makes me tick. Like when you disassemble a clock and it has all its intricate parts that couldn’t possibly work without each other. That’s kinda like me. If I decided to get rid of this introspective and thoughtful side to myself, then I wouldn’t be me anymore would I? Really makes you think, like.
Amsterdam is in my heart now. Like Ian Brown said: it takes time for people to fall in love, but it’s inevitable. The Mancunian prophet hits it right again. It isn’t all about the lax attitude to drugs or even the hilarious sight of some leather-clad, old woman doing teasing tricks with a mars bar in the red light district windows. It’s about slipping inside the eye of your mind, don’t you know you might find, a better place to play.
When you find somewhere you feel you belong, never let it go.