I’m now seven months into my study of belonging here in Australia, my fourth country. This month I’ll be focussing on Reaching Out.
At a reading on Sunday night I met UK author Geoff Dyer, who’s lived in Paris, New York, San Francisco and now Los Angeles. During the interview, he’s relaxed and appears to be more sliding than sitting in the lounge chair, long legs outstretched. I can’t help staring at the rolled up hems of his jeans and wondering whether its back in style again or just a style Dyer never parted with.
Belonging for Dyer is about people, more than place. When I ask him about whether he has as strong sense of belonging he’s surprised that he hasn’t thought about it more.”I’ve always loved a sense of belonging. I’ve loved being in groups and…. I think that comes from not having any brothers and sisters,” he says, adding that he enjoys being part of the global community of writers.
How refreshing! Many people I’ve talked to have said they don’t feel they belong or they don’t need to belong but here’s someone who just loves the idea of belonging and being part of a group. I get the sense he’s saying something that many of us aren’t or won’t.
Then Francesca from London emailed me. She had been looking for flotsam along the banks of the Thames. I can picture her, even though I’ve never met her, walking along the rocks, head down. I think she would move in a considered way. Maybe her camera is around her neck. In her email Francesca is wondering whether I collected flotsam and if so, would I like to do a UK-Australia flotsam exchange. How beautiful. I love the idea of sharing found treasures.
And I think to myself: this is what I’m collecting. Where once there were extended families and tight communities, now there are only fragments. But there are still treasures out there to collect and share. Magical treasures that happen spontaneously if I’m open to them.
So here I am, gathering the flotsam of belonging.