Dear Diary

November 23, 2011

Shoplifting, the joys and sorrows of suburbia, and Katherine is soooooo tirrrrrred.

Naomi

When driving down the streets of the town where I live, listening to Simon & Garfunkel, I often wonder whether in 30 or 40 years I’ll come back here. I have this strange mixture of absolute hatred and sappy affection for this place, a small town on the outskirts of Birmingham, England. It’s strange that you can have such a relationship with what is simply a place. A small number of square miles that could be replicated pretty much everywhere in England with the same effect. But it is this patch of ground specifically that has my heart and my distaste. I want to escape it, but I acknowledge that I might never live in a nicer place.

The town is a combination of picturesque sections where the wealthier people tend to live, and ragged sections with council houses and blocks of flats where people don’t have much. It’s very homogenous, and I think that bothers me sometimes. You know, it’s white suburbia. We used to live in a much rougher neighborhood in Birmingham. It was really multicultural, and I loved that. There was also much more of a community. Here, neighbours don’t know one another that well, and people like to keep to themselves. It can seem a tad unfriendly. And yet I can imagine slinking back here when I have conquered the world on my own terms, and reclaiming this city for myself.

There’s this redbrick Victorian house a few streets away that I have my eye on for one day a long time in the future. Once I met the man who lives there—he knows my dad—and he told me that he’d said exactly the same thing when he was my age: he walked past it thinking, One day I will own that house. The house is located right outside of a little oasis hidden within the twisty roads of suburbia—there are huge houses with gardens that slope down to a lake, and fields with horses and a stable. When you are standing in the middle of this haven, you can hardly hear a car engine.

It pains me not to know what will happen in the future until it happens. I wish I knew, somehow, that the milestones of my life will happen—you know, moving away, going to college, first love, first job, getting married, having children. Then I could get on with the present much easier, with the knowledge that the important things will definitely turn out OK. The problem with being 17 in a town like this is that I don’t have much power or autonomy—I don’t even have a driver’s license yet. It’s easy to feel stuck, cemented into this point of my life. So fantasizing about the future is one of my favourite things to do. I have so many storylines in my head about what I might pursue—but which ones will work out?

I once read in the newspaper something some man said—I wish I could remember who—that when you’re young you’re waiting for your life to start, and now that he was 65, he still felt like he was waiting.

Time isn’t a straight line with pinpoints on it. It’s a big huge tangle of crossing wires and good times and bad times and there is no way to control time by thinking about it, however philosophically. Therefore I vow to love my neighbourhood, right now, for what it is. I will love its endless number of white vans and old-age pensioners, the people who don’t smile back, the pre-teenagers who give me attitude, the mix of beautiful old buildings and endless concrete, the parks and playgrounds and dog walkers. The people who don’t understand and the people who do. Though some days, no doubt, I’ll be intensely frustrated and dream of New York.

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13 Comments

  • OrangeSunrise November 23rd, 2011 7:15 PM

    I am reading this at midnight, because of time-zone differences, but I know I won’t sleep until four, if I’m lucky. I, like Katherine, have just been sooooooooo tired…but I just can’t sleep!

  • Chimdi November 23rd, 2011 7:22 PM

    That kind of happens to me too! Some days I’ll sleep for ten to twelve hours, and then the next I won’t sleep at all. Sometimes I’m awake and I’m REALLY tired, but I just can’t will myself to rest.

  • Minna November 23rd, 2011 7:53 PM

    Well………….. this week I had my Graduation art exhibition and I felt a lot like that girl standing in front of my work with my hands on my hips like hey y’all look what I’ve done!

    • Anaheed November 23rd, 2011 8:18 PM

      Oh, well then WOOOOOOO GO YOU!!!

  • cherrycola27 November 23rd, 2011 11:31 PM

    “that when you’re young you’re waiting for your life to start, and now that he was 65, he still felt like he was waiting.”

    I feel like this is maybe depressing and probably like I’m just missing the bigger picture. I know that feeling so well- I’m 20 and I feel like I’m still waiting for everything to happen.
    I really liked this diary entry.

  • Bren November 24th, 2011 12:20 AM

    People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff. – Doctor Who

    I don’t know why Naomi’s entry reminded me of that line.

  • kirsty November 24th, 2011 7:13 AM

    when i was in high school my sisters and i got into a cycle of shoplifting. when it got brought up in a conversation recently with my fiance he didn’t believe me; he said it seemed so unlike me. I guess it was, but Dylan’s right – you start to rationalise it as normal because you “need” whatever it is you’re taking. Looking back on it, I can’t believe how much I ended up stealing over time. Not to justify it, but I went to school with a lot of rich kids who seemed to take for granted the allowance they got from their parents. I thought, if they can have all these things without paying for them themselves, why can’t I? It’s been a long time since I last took something, but I think the guilt will stay with me a while longer.

  • Nomi November 24th, 2011 10:35 AM

    Naomi: you should listen to the song “100 years” by five for fighting.

  • jeanette November 24th, 2011 3:50 PM

    NAOMI! I love you! I feel the exact same way about my area, down here, in East London. I often dream of New York actually, and want to live there but at the same time I love this area yet I hate it and.. ahh I don’t know. But those pre-teens bug me even when I do think I love it.

  • IAmHeliumRaven November 24th, 2011 4:20 PM

    Naomi, its nice to know someone out there feels the same way as you. Thanks for reminding me to enjoy now instead of constantly worrying about the future. But i’ll still dream of New York.

  • Whatsername November 24th, 2011 8:24 PM

    Dylan’s posts always interest me, Naomi’s posts always relate to me and Katherine’s posts always crack me up.

    Love this place, seriously.

  • Maialuna November 24th, 2011 9:17 PM

    Katherine, I know how you feel. COMPLETELY. I’m exactly the same lately. I mean, I would punish myself severely if I actually fell asleep in class, but I can’t think straight and my words get tangled up and when my friends talk to me, I have to think about quite a few times before I have any idea what they want. Ugh. And then I stay up until 2 AM doing homework.