I live in a beautiful part of England that sometimes makes me breathless, particularly when I come out in the morning and see the mist across the fields on my way to school or on my runs.This mist is punctuated by ghostlike oaks that emerge like mythical beings from the vapours. I love this place, really, even if I’m not always so enamoured with the locals. But I feel no roots to this place, and don’t feel like I belong here. I’ve never felt that for any place.
Where I lived in Sweden it was beautiful too. Bergslagen is a magnificent old forest that stretches from the east around Lake Malaren all the way up into Lapland and west to the Norwegian border. It is fir wood, tall firs that have stood there for hundreds of years. Medieval knights have trudged past the then saplings who grew into these giants. I can understand why people would feel like they were a part of the land, having seen countless of generations grow up in it.
Mark feels like he belongs in this bit of England, and if they dug into his genealogy I’m sure they could go through the church records back into the centuries past and trace their ancestry to the Roman times. Sometimes it feels like that, and then I can envy his connection to a place, to a history, and wonder what that would feel like.
Maybe this is why the subject of history interests me. It gives me a consolation prize, a substitute for being rootless. I am a bi-national that is a mix of both Sweden and England, and thus neither of them. I flick between cultures at the drop of a hat, and belong to neither culture, and always stand outside and observe the goings on.
Maybe I would feel something if I visited Sheffield where my mother’s side of the family were shaped. Maybe I would feel something in the fields of Södermanland that chiselled out my father’s relations? Likely there would be none of that, and I’d just not be a part of it, being the mix that I am and the person without history that I’ve become.
I wonder what it would feel like to fit snugly into an ongoing context that’s been running for millennia. I wonder what it would be like to have roots. Not just emotional attachments to a person, but roots firmly planted in the ground of a bit of land so that I could say, with conviction, “this is where I belong”.