The City I Love to Hate

Places trigger memories, and often I’ve focused on the bad. However, in this blog post I explore the process of making positive memories associated with a place, and remembering them, as I returned once again a few months ago.

I moved north with a bursting heart. I’d made the decision quite impulsively to live in a beautiful house with a wonderful family to be closer to my partner. I wanted to feel like part of a family, and to have the chance to really feel like a future I’d wanted was achievable. I could be accepted for who I am, I could be safe and secure and I could, after everything up to this point, be happy. I was in the most beautiful place I’d ever been. It was tranquil and so full of love and promise. This was going to do wonders for me.

So seven months later, after I was (quite literally) dumped in a shopping centre, miles and miles away from my family and with very few friends, I walked to a flat I had only just started to rent in said city to be closer to work, and was devastated to say I fucking hated it. I hated everything about it.

I hated the way I had to walk past the shopping centre everywhere I walked: to work, to the supermarket, to the train station. I hated the fact I might walk into any member of that family at any point, and I hated that so much that I became afraid to leave the house alone. I hated the hills, and the scenery, and the lochs- a reminder that I was nowhere near anything I could call home. I hated the theatre, because we’d been there. I hated the lovely little pub at the top of the road, with its outdoor terrace and fabulous selection of real ales, because we’d sat there. I hated the river we walked along, and I hated the cafe I walked past between my offices as we had drank hot chocolates and watched the world pass by there.

The city watched me as I was forced to set my own sun. It watched me cry, alone in my room, as I dropped almost a stone in weight over little more than a month. It watched me begin to believe that happiness wasn’t for me, that I was only deserving of, and destined for, bad things.

But, wait. It’s three years later, and I’m sat by the same river. It is beautiful. The sun shines off the banks, and brings out the green against the grey blue waters as it swirls in a way only this river does. As my gaze continues along the river, I reach the islands. The islands I watched my best friend and daughter Race for Life through, at a time where I could barely move. The islands I ventured to, and hid in, listening to audiobooks until the gates closed. The islands I walked through with some wonderful people in my life, and on which I almost fell of a bench in the middle of a kiss.

But there’s not just the river. This city is huge, and full of memories. There’s the bar which, one evening, I sat and listened to folk music with Scotland’s number one Paul Simon fan. The person I would try to climb a Munro with, and instead fuck on its grassy slopes, and who I’d later fall asleep near listening to Pet Sounds. There’s the marina, and the boat I’d admired from a distance for three weeks, and got to throughly admire from the inside on three delicious occasions- probably the only time in my life I will watch a bottle nose dolphin play about in the waters, as I’m being fucked from behind.

There is the same shopping centre, in which I just my friend a birthday balloon in, three years after she drove to collect me from that house and told me I didn’t have to walk back through that door ever again. The friend who housed me for weeks, and gave me a space to grieve and feel safe in, and who still does. The place I can watch badgers, woodpeckers, pheasants, deer and overly friendly sheep in the quiet of her garden.

There is my old flat. The flat I fell into, which although housed my utter devastation, simultaneously saved me. There was the flatmate who fell into my heart, and became a fabulous friend of mine, and the flatmate who fell into my bed and we could be exactly what each other needed, for the brief time we needed it. The bed I built myself, with a pair of scissors (because at that moment in time the screwdriver was nowhere to be found) and female rage, which later collapsed mid fuck. A metaphor for my life? Perhaps. But this new ‘futon’ saw many late night cups of tea, where I told one flatmate my bruises were from work, and the other that they were from a thorough beating I’d received three days prior.

The hills, the lochs and the scenery became the backdrop to new adventures. Wild camping, fishing, solitary walks, and long, light days followed by longer nights. I began to find myself again.

It is probably not great advice to fuck your way through heartbreak, but I gave it a good go. It was safe, and exciting, and escapism at its very best. I learned more about myself in those months that followed a relationship which lasted years. The look on his poor wee face, on one of the many occasions we definitely shouldn’t have months later, when I begged him to fuck me harder still. The smirk when he realised he could get away with shoving my wet underwear into my mouth, and keep them there with his muscular hands.

But I realised more than that. I loved to hate the city in which I saw my world crumble. However, as I’ve built my world slowly back up (perhaps not with scissors, but still plenty of female rage), I realise I quite like it here.

(I’ll try not to let it collapse mid fuck)

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