Car Parks and Cities.
I am sitting in one of the car parks on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead. The rain is hammering down on the car and in front of me is one of the major routes out of town. From the road, there is a constant drum and hiss of cars passing by along. The sound of sirens and horns blowing flood the area with a din.
My customer is closed. So I sit here in my car in a car park alongside a busy road. Of all the places I could go this would not be my first choice but there we are.
I have all the trappings of modern life around me, I phone Tablet and a car full of gizmos. I am surrounded by McDonald’s, Halfords, Aldi and pets R Us. It feels wrong on a very base level. An emotional Level. A man out of place.
I should/ shouldn’t be here. Now repeat for Job, House, area and customers. It’s not discontentment just a feeling I should be elsewhere. Just not fitting in.
There was a film a few years ago called Local Hero. An oil exec gets sent to Scotland and goes native. Then his boss arrives and sends him back. The last shots of the film, while Going Home by Dire Straits plays, is the exec taking shells out of his pocket and laying them carefully on the shelf and he just looks at them.
There is an adage that you don’t know what you have until you lose it, this is so true. Having been born and raised on a farm and a youth spent outdoors in Somerset and Devon with no traffic noise and the ability to escape every night. When I do, it is slotted in between work and home requirements.
Torn, between the life I need and the life I want.
In the city, I feel Isolated and trapped. In a bubble that envelops constricts me. But protects me from everything and everyone. But this, in turn, makes me feel alone and lonely. This is the sort of lonely that can only be felt when you walk into a crowded room and everyone seems to be having a good time except you. Not lonely but alone. Like travelling on a separate path. You can see what is going on next door but there is no way over and even if there were would you like it.
This is something I never feel in the countryside, even when I spend a whole day by myself. The bubble falls away and I am part of something rather than just living. It is possible that city people can feel the opposite and would start to feel apart from the world without the constant noise and babble. I have a sense of belonging in the country which I simply don’t have in a city
I never feel alone, never feel lonely, I do miss my wife but that is not the same thing, I never feel Isolated and most importantly never feel like I’m in a bubble. There is no need to protect myself from anything. (Not in the UK anyway but maybe from wild animals in a different country) It’s a world apart from, an alternate lifestyle.
This is what lockdown has shown me so clearly. The old landscape and the new. Everyone seems intent on rushing back to the old one why not move onto the new one. Why not embrace the change from rushing and charging and move towards a more inclusive life? Why be defined by what you do rather than who you are.
Keeping up with the Jones
As a side note, I am aware that some people want to have that lifestyle and that is fine. I am talking to all the people who work trying to keep up with them. Trying to operate on their level and losing out on kids, home life because they feel if they work just that little bit harder. If they isolate themselves just a little more, spend some cash and try to impress they will get there. My question is at what cost?
While they dream of the latest and best, I dream of the countryside and the quiet. Wind in my hair and the cries of buzzards overhead.
The car starts and I move away back into the melee, bubble in place. My future held firmly in my sights and all that it entails giving up to achieve it.
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