Thanks to a family member for telling me about the “I escaped from Lowestoft” group on Facebook. The description says
A group for all people who have moved away from Lowestoft for whatever reason; to reminiss and generally say what they want about it.
What do people want to say about Lowestoft? Here’s a sample:
I will be soon to escape from this place known as “Lowestoft or to the locals “lowie”. [A] very damp and depressing place where there is nothing left to do then reminisce in your own miserable memoryâ€™s[sic] and end up marry your relatives, then get a low paid job or survive on benefits, for then as fast as clicking your finger the next 40years have gone by and now you old enough to receive a free bus pass and the only thing you look forward to is bingo on a Monday afternoon!” — Kate
When I left Lowie, in 1984 by becoming a student at Leicester Polytechnic, I wasn’t posessed of quite such a fearsome loathing for my birth-town, but it did feel like the time had come to move on. I imagine, however, that there are those, too, who celebrate their having escaped from Leicester (and I don’t mean the prison). Leicester didn’t seem to me to be a qualitatively better place, just a different place. That’s not the point, is it? The idea of an “I escaped from …” group is to celebrate one’s growth: to view the place from outside rather than to bemoan it as the pits of the universe. The town in question is not important; one could create a generic group called “I escaped from the town of my birth”, (though the effect might be to make those who have lived out their lives in one place feel picked on). I think the escape Kate is talking about is a change of spirit. It’s escape from the prospect of suddenly growing old (and discovering that you are related to your spouse!?). It’s about taking control of one’s destiny; “escape” from a place is, I believe, mostly symbolic of that. I say mostly because I think it is possible but difficult, in our culture, for a young person to experience taking control of his or her destiny without making such a move.
I have heard many people describe what feels like a trap, or a vicious circle, in an expensive city like London wherein one rents or buys a pleasant home and the necessity of paying its rent or mortgage obliges one to work, and to continue to work, beyond what feels pleasant. Nic and I were starting to feel that way too. This week we moved to Cambridge. Cambridge is an expensive town in its own right; nor do I find it qualitatively better than London. That’s not the point, is it? It’s about Nic and I choosing to take control of our respective destinies. There are a bundle of choices associated with this move, the change of home-town is one of them. And, for me, there is a slight sense of going back, since I have, briefly, lived in Cambridge before; in the same house, in fact, and with a different partner. Nevertheless, this does feel like a time of taking risks; a time for celebrating newfound liberty.
Yay for our new home!