With just a few weeks to go before an election and what could be the irreversible final step towards Brexit, I find myself lined up with a series of trips that will take me across the EU to some of its most symbolic capitals. From the craddle of Europe, to the capital of European bureaucracy and also to the capitals of its two leading – and strongest – defenders.
It is going to be a beautiful opportunity to experience the EU all at once, a concentrated tour the force accross the continent, taking place over less than twenty days. An inspiring way of saying goodbye to yet another year of troubles, pains and disappointments in a country I struggle to love and call home.
I would like to record these visits and create as personal a log as I can make it.
How will it feel to experience cities that have been so instrumental to the ‘European project’ when you know that dramatic change is coming? More documentation to carry, perhaps. Longer queues to be allowed in and out of borders. More reasons to take longer journeys to the continent. More arguments to dissolve the hope that these Brit islands can or want to be on the same page as its immediate neighbours.
The UK, or rather, England, has this endless need to be and act ‘different’ in the least meaningful of ways – the purely procedural ways: the boring and annoying ways of being different; the ways that consist, mainly, of making inconsequential procedures ever more noticeable and time consuming.
I have lived in the UK for over 18 years now; 13 of these, in England. It is 2019 and I have never felt less connected to this place, to the country that has given me so many platforms and opportunities to thrive. The UK as a nation state means little to me. England is a concept I cannot relate to from an emotional point of view. Cities like Glasgow or Liverpool are, however, profoundly lived in places that have made me and unmade me in irreversible ways.
I want to think of what it feels like to live in Liverpool while I walk in Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Athens. I want to write love letters to Liverpool and Glasgow while lost in the continent. I also want to be deeply aware of how it feels to be there, in those four capitals at this point in time, after so many months consuming exaggerated rations of The Guardian and BBC Parliament updates on Brexit.
I will think about it, I will write about it and I will share it.
<<I will then travel to Barcelona and get drunk on cava and yet more endless, frustrating and confusing identity disagreements, missing my stubborn capacity to discard England as a place of belonging… while dreading the pull of Catalonia as my other impossible ~ implausible home. I trust the cava will be worth it.>>