For most of my late 20s and early 30s, all I wanted to do was go away.
I read books about expatriate artists; joined listservs to hear the tales of those who were living a lifestyle I was convinced was the one I needed to live to rattle my chains.
The truth is I was always away, huddled in my apartment and my thoughts turning fast into the hermit of whom my mother would certainly not approve.
I know now that away is not always a physical place.
What got me thinking about this? This morning I read an article about a photography exhibit in Seattle that chronicles James Baldwin’s time in Istanbul. Writer and expatriate, Baldwin wrote much of the novel I’m reading now, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone ,while he was there.
Zimbabwean writer and filmmaker Charles Mudede writes of the exhibit:
The natural place for the writer is exile. It can be spiritual or physical exile, but they always have to be outside of their society, because writers are outsiders. The writer is out of place when they’re in their place. They need distance. They need to get away to process what it means to be who they are.