Uncomfortable chairs, couches you can melt into, cold kitchen floors, colorful wooden doors, narrow alleyways, blind street corners, open highways, towns, cities, countries, continents, galaxies.
There is an unparalleled thrill that comes from exploring the unknown. It’s been like that for as long as I can remember, that need for newness, for mystery. My evenings as a child always encompassed long walks, or bike rides around the neighbourhood. I liked being outside. I would finish all my homework as soon as I got back, and just wait, excitedly, unbearably, until I could go out. I would think about the new places: the paths that I hadn’t previously taken, an undiscovered space under the leaves of the local park, an abandoned old house. I don’t think anything made me happier. This strange yearning for the new, the emotion evoked in new spaces, rooms, crowds, has stayed with me. I still love going for walks where I haven’t before, or spontaneous adventures, unplanned trips: in other words, exploring. Yet alongside this quest for the unknown exists a paradox; once I get comfortable in a space, I find myself obsessively returning, unable to stop. The need to come to the familiar, walk the same path, sit in the same spot, routinely do the same ritual, is just as strong for my need for the new, and speaks perhaps to the sense of comfort, consistency that such spaces bring with them.
What is my relationship with the spaces I occupy?
I’m almost halfway into my third year at University, months over 20, and I have been living in Scotland for over 2 years. When I look back thinking about the passing of time, undoubtedly there are some things that seem to have remained the same, yet others are unexplainably changed. My mind has felt these changes, my body has seen them too , but more than anyone, more than my own being can, this Scottish town on the eastern coast of Fife, has witnessed this change.
We’re always talking of change in terms of our own physical and emotional being. Yet, the spaces around us also remind us of that change, of the passing of time.
I have left pieces of myself across different spaces in this town; streets, alleyways, cobblestones have felt me walk for hours, run, pace. he old brick walls have also known me, have heard me think, heard me laugh, and occasionally cry. Familiarity is a trait of the town; walking around you feel the air engulf you into a comforting (albeit cold)embrace. There are some spaces, however, that are more cheering, more intimate, than the rest, that hold memories of the most intense comfort and familiarity, making me feel safe and taken care of, even far away from home.
Spaces serve as a physical manifestation of past memories, moments both big and fleeting, but also a reminder of time, of change, the moments, days, years, gone by.
I’ve spent hours playing with shadows
Watching the sky – different shades of red, orange, blue, grey
Countless bottles of wine,
flowers dry out, never thrown away
mirrors, candles, colors,
It’s always a bit of a mess,
but it’s where my heart feels safe.
II. coffee shop
Crowded, cramped, noisy
we’re all breathing the same air
Legs brushing, fingertips touching, smiles
The sound of the coffee machine,
drowned out by the music
And then by laughter, conversation
In the evenings, it’s quiet, just the music,
The smell of coffee, a little bit of sugar
A soft pattering of rain on the window sill
I sink into the couch,
It is where I always sit.
III. the sea
I’ve never lived by the sea before,
I find myself going for longer walks now.
Early in the morning,
Sometimes at mid-day,
The sun is setting,
At times, so late, when no one is there,
But the moon and the wind
And the sound of the waves.
It’s different each time,
Never the same.
When you look from afar, they seem like ripples,
And then closer, and closer, they’re dancing
they’re running towards you.
The sea, reminds me to pause, take time to think.
Art by Desiree Finlayson
Photography by Ananya Jain