Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Did i ever mention how much i hate traveling?

Map of my heart by ~Astazja on deviantART

Did i ever mention how much i hate traveling? im sure i must have, it's the sort of thing i would go on about. Ironic perhaps for some one who tends to get around the place a fair bit. They say travel broadens the mind.... or something, personally i think a nice handwritten letter and a cup of tea would do more for my nerves.

Perhaps if i had the money and leisure to travel by train things would be different, i often dream of how luxurious it might be to sit on the train and write for hours as we pass through scenic places. then again i also still clearly remember the 35 hour train journey to Belarus, the night train from Romania to Poland where they woke us every hour to check we still had the right documents, and many other exciting border crossings where even the privilege of waving my red brit passport didn't make it that much funnier.

Still i like the fantasy of how train travel might be and i really HATE airports. im a failed brit in my inability to enjoy queing, the novelty of the pat down search wore off a while ago and airport 'lounges', why in the hell do they call them that?? Queing for the second time this week at the airport, making another attempt at getting to beograd. I engaged in something of a reunion with other travelers who had been on the same canceled flight as me a few days earlier... and i remembered one of the things travel DOES often do for me, it gives me a different perspective.

with a familiar camaraderie they asked me 'so what is your connection to beograd?' (having told me earlier it is their home town.) i gave my standard 'filtered to avoid homophobia' response: 'oh im part of a cultural collective' and when they asked me 'which collective is that?' i paused for a moment, took in their youth, urbanity, good humor...and said 'Queer Beograd'. i like to think about coming out sometimes. there was a visible physical recoil in response, not towards me... but the concept. their reply came, 'wow, you've been busy lately' - I smile that they have heard of us - and then they ask 'and how do you deal with that level of fear? what's it like, the feeling of having pretty much the whole country against you?'

the conversation was longer than that, they were nice people, curious and also in some sense congratulatory. surprised to hear that amongst the hatred and death threats some of my friends experience there are also those who say thank you and tell how much their actions have meant to them.
but what i took note of for myself was the pause i made before choosing to come out, and of being asked how i deal with the fear. it made me think what a difference support, and i mean not only at the personal level, but legalised mainstream support, of sexuality and gender expression makes to me and how i can be in the world.

i suppose another part of my limited enthusiasm for traveling is that i am a little agoraphobic, its a funny one, im never sure how much is a deeply instilled social conditioning of 'girls stick close to the house' or some other form of fucked up social maladjustment - i have many, im thinking of having badges made to represent each one so i can hand sew them as decorative decals onto my luggage.
but yeah i have 'issues' with navigating the outside world at times, stuff that is a little more complicated than my inability to read maps. sometimes it's nothing, then other times going out to by a loaf of bread becomes a challenge. so being in another country, especially one where i don't speak the language and do have some past experiences of violence does absolutely ZERO for my level of street confidence.

today in beograd the fagdaddy and i went to the gym together, strange cos i don't remember even making a new years resolution about this and yet suddenly there i am working out! at the same time im making a zoological observation of the guys at the gym, how much space they take up and how much noise they make! the fagdaddy laughs: 'i don't even think they are aware they are doing it'. and for me, understanding nothing of what they are saying it's like watching a pantomime of social status and machismo. as usual i find myself wondering what it is like to have so much physical strength and confidence at ones disposal, what is it like to assume a natural right to take up space? these questions fascinate me.

speaking of cultural surrounds beograd is one of those places where i often feel least in touch with my own gender and sexuality, it's like some sort of limbo, there's no context for me. in the gym while lifting weights, im whinging about my bruised elbow from a wrestling match on a concrete floor in a queer sex club a few weeks earlier. the fagdaddy laughs at me (as usual) and says 'imagine, imagine that there would ever be such a thing as a queer sex club in serbia'

and here sometimes i even have difficulty imagining not just those london 'normalities' of the queer scene but MYSELF...who i am drifts, i am out of my depth, out of touch with myself because i don't recognise my surrounds.

this interplay of outside and inside conditions, of social and cultural norms with our own internal abilities and views of ourselves does make me think. of course its not the first time i have tried to fathom the connections between how we can form and shape our own hopes and desires, and how the society around us can support or limit those capacities. the miracle being that people do insist on being who they are.

im going to the gym again tomorrow and i also know that in this current process of traveling i will at some point remember a little bit more of who i am.

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