When I went to accompany my friend to Barnsley, I spent much of my time roaming around Derbyshire and the Peak District while she studied for her exam. Derbyshire proved to be lovely English countryside, with excellent rambles and walks,...
Before I came to Derbyshire to support my friend taking her medical qualifying exam, I had already gone to England many times.
I had visited London, of course. During my studies in north Wales for a time, I ventured into England every now and then. I had also repeatedly gone to Northumbria; for a time, I was even married to a Geordie man. During those trips, I had come all the way down to Warwick, Bath and Salisbury, all along the northeast coast, and west into the Lake District.
But somehow I never quite went to the very middle part – until I did.
The home that should not feel like home
I have always been the eccentric Malaysian who actually prefers rural England to the South. I’ve no idea where the Malaysian hotspots are in London. I don’t know where the ‘right’ places are to go to get your hair done or to be seen. I’ve no idea where the Harrods’ is, or whatever other knowledge is supposed to be on the elite’s fingertips.
Although I’m partial to England, and it is familiar to me from long years of literature, I wouldn’t quite say that it felt like home. You know, the inexplicable way that someplace that isn’t objectively special, feels nonetheless special and comfortable and ‘belonging’ to you?
Except Derbyshire did.
It’s the most bizarre feeling. Of never having been somewhere, and yet the place for all the world felt like home. If I believed in reincarnation, I would swear that in one of my past lives I must have lived there.
And so, when I said yes to spontaneously flying to Derbyshire, I inadvertently gave myself the unique experience of simultaneously being abroad and feeling at home.
It turned out that this was exactly the feeling I needed to feel, at a time when I was re-learning the way of life that was truly true for me.