I am currently blogging from a small city in Wales, after situating residency in my friend's guest room. With only a handful of days left before I have to catch the coach back to London, the homesickness is really beginning to kick in - the problem? I'm homesick over my hometown Swansea, not where my house, school, and family are in London.
Back up four and a half years, and I was a young Welsh girl with a strong accent and overpowering wanderlust, staying in a glass-roofed house in the extremely patriotic city of Swansea. Despite my Welsh friends and unexpected acceptance into a good comprehensive school, my family and I fancied a change of scenery and so decided to move to London, where the rest of my family lived. Don't get me wrong, England is a reasonably nice place to live, but my past few days here in Wales have brought back so many emotions and memories that I'm going to find it really hard to leave. Thus, I decided to take a load of photos to remind myself of the place I once lived.
I realised on my second day in Wales just how strange the Swansea architecture is. You get the busy city life and bright lights and music, but with small old buildings decorating every street corner. I couldn't help comparing this to the modern, hi-tech buildings of London, and, naturally, felt my first wave of homesickness for this mismatched city.
Walking down party-central Wine Street with my friend Michael and stopping at one of the least noisy restaurants, I couldn't help notice that even the bathrooms have drink holders, and for some reason I found this immensely funny.
Down Wine Street with the loud throbbing music and bleach-blonde girls (not much older than me) in skimpy dresses with their arms linked around an equally orange-skinned friend or shaven-head overpowering boyfriend, I couldn't help but realise that Essex and Ibiza are overrated - drunken twenty-year-olds all over the country should just visit Wine Street.
Michael and I then went to my favourite American-imitation diner, Eddie Rockets. Unfortunately I'd forgotten how absolutely MASSIVE their portions are, and could only eat a quarter of the double-burger-triple-cheese-thick-ridged-bun-with-salad that they served me.
It shocked me to remember that the Welsh buses are white and single-decker instead of red and double. The majority of their taxis are also white and square-looking instead of shiny black hairdryer-lookalikes.
Another thing that I remembered was how artistically cultured Swansea is when I went into town and saw one of their many eye catching pieces of board-art, with small patriotic swans in the bottom corner and dark buildings painted beneath the black starry sky.
Surprisingly still, the weather is incredibly hot and the skies a bright blue. The hills here are a dull green and surround everything, EVERYWHERE, and houses are usually semi-detached and a light brown or pastel yellow/white colour, in preparation for the six days a year that the weather is hot up South.
This is just an example of culture mixed in with city life. One second you'll be in a loud Route 66-themed pub, then step out to a modern New Look shop with glass walls and marble floors, and then as you cross the road you'll see a crumbling half-castle. Strange.
I almost died when I saw that Swansea town still has the water boat in the centre of the square. It brought back so many memories, and actually physically hurt to know that despite the ever-changing city life, this one artifact was still standing steady.
Yesterday was the big England vs Wales rugby game, so about 40% of Swansea residents went to the square to all watch the game together in the sun, on the big television screen. People were everywhere and I felt so patriotic to be part of it all. I don't think you understand how positive I felt in that particular moment of time, surrounded by strong Welsh brogues and red-shirted citizens in the (burning) hot weather, all crowded together to celebrate our city's famous sport.
This is an image of the blurred-out Swansea streets as the sun went down. Blame my crappy Samsung phone for focusing on a piece of floating dust instead of the view ahead of me because the sunset really was stunning.
Walking back to the Square yesterday I passed a tall clock-tower-like building, and couldn't help but feel like part of an extremely art-orientated culture as I noticed the floating handcrafted angels balancing on the stonework. Then again as I passed an average sidewalk wall decorated with red and white hearts, each featuring a different statement that Swansea nationals had written about what they love about the square.
Seagulls were absolutely everywhere, and no matter where I was in Swansea you could bet your bottom dollar that there was at least one seagull within a twenty mile radius of each person. Fun fact: I can see at least three from my guest room window right now.
Last night Michael and I went to the graveyard down the road from his house, mainly because I'd never been to one before and I also wanted some names for novel characters. It was absolutely MASSIVE and carried on for miles on end. I felt a bit grief-ridden, despite the fact that I knew no one there, but when you're surrounded in concentrated death in a place like that I guess emotions tend to surface.
As people slowly drained out of the streets yesterday evening it suddenly hit me that everything about Wales is just a shell of it's former self, the one I used to live in; and I felt an immense emotional pain when I realised that it's not just the town, but the people too. All my previous friends had moved on and spread out to make new friends - they're not who they used to be and never will be again. The people I know are now just memories.
Then it hit me, looking around me at the pregnant women in kitten pumps and the bodybuilder men in their tight Adidas jackets, that Swansea is really just a town full of, as John Green would say, paper people. I'm not meaning to be offensive, but that's the exact statement that ran though my head. It hurt so bad just watching these people walk past, knowing I'd forget their faces within the next few minutes.
However, my past few days in the mismatched city of Swansea have been absolutely brilliant, and homesickness is getting worse. I've been to town, the Square, met up with friends, shopped, cooked my own lunch (burnt it like heck), been to the cinema, went out for dinner a few times, and even had my first kiss (squee!). I'm going back on Thursday and ugh, I'm going to miss it all so much, I really am.