It’s the strangest thing but after two or three days in Brighton, I feel something shift – like a change in my centre of gravity. I find myself thinking, “Oh yes, this is who I am. This is what it feels like.”
I feel more myself in Brighton than I do anywhere else I can think of.
Part of my attachment to the city is perhaps that my memories there have such emotional resonance – it’s where I bought my first flat and my first car. It’s where I got engaged and bought my house, and my dog, then got married, and had a baby. It’s where I made my closest adult friends. It’s where my marriage broke down. Every time I turn a corner, there’s a memory that’s powerful enough tostop me in my tracks.
But I think it’s more than that.
I love the energy of Brighton. It has a youth and creativity that you don’t find everywhere, and the beach balances out the noise of the city. It's a place that embraces difference – in the small town where I live I am the only single parent I know, but in Brighton our social circle included single Mums and couples gay and straight.
Difference makes life more interesting. Flea's nanny was gay and used to work for Cher. Our neighbour was a Green Party MP. We knew people who home educated and people who had set up their own Quaker school. I love that kind of diversity and difference – you’re always learning new things, being surprised.
There are problems in Brighton to be sure – drugs and alcohol are a big issue, the parking situation is nightmarish, and let’s not even talk about the school situation. But, oh, I look up at the sky there and I feel at home.
I wonder if it’s just sentimentality, or missing my youth (which, let’s face it, is a distant memory at this point) or can you really have a spiritual home – a place where you’re just meant to be? Or is home where you choose to make it?