Provocation #1 February 1st 2023 – Come Home Journal #5
A provocation is a challenging question, our first was:
What does it mean to belong?
In the Iron Pavilion at Kirks Reservoir on a warm summer day women came and sat with me to talk about belonging. They waited silently, I could see them going over thoughts in their mind, it was not quietly.
It’s an odd word to talk about – belonging. It conjures moments of childhood where belonging was some indecipherable rite of passage to the cool group, it lifts and places you in memories of teens where you stood outside of belonging, and it wraps you in the warmth of a little family all eating potatoes because thats all you had money for that week. At least thats what it did for me.
I met up with an old acquaintance in a coffee shop recently. When I was a young uni student he was a core member of the cool group. All it took was a soft charisma, beaming smile and a passion to create. He is doing amazing art now, I was never in any doubt because he never was. We hugged and put our cheeks together, despite covid, we never knew when we might see each other again. He asked what I was making and I replied films. He smiled that deep enveloping smile that drops defences and said “You were always into your own thing, confident, and so cool.”
My vision of myself at that time wasn’t what he saw. I loved to stand apart being ‘different’, however at the same time I was desperate for belonging. I had four older sisters in various states of rockstar, the older two were inseparable while the second two didn’t need anyone. I was a fifth wheel, the youngest of five girls with two younger brothers. The bros were their own world no girl should enter.
I have recently discovered that despite knowing everything, as young sisters do, my older sisters will never follow me on adventures! However I am sometimes happy to roll along on theirs. Older now I have my own adventures to make. I belong to myself.
The women who came to that first provocation and answered my questions, stood patiently on a gold plinth, opened and closed tins for the camera (more on that in future journals), are those most common of women – brave and curious at the same time! Their answers were confronting, confounding and fabulous. Here is a taste:
- The only people who care about belonging are those that don’t.
- Belonging is one side, acceptance is the other. We don’t have control for ourselves but we can welcome others.
- There are different ‘me’s’ that belong to different times and places, I will never not belong there.
- I don’t want to belong anymore, I am free in not belonging.
- You must belong to yourself first – it is your first belonging and your final longing.
- I am old and from another country. I travel between belongings.
IMAGE CREDIT: Velvet Mumma film still by Erin M McCuskey