I’ve posted a new essay at Goddard’s The Writer in the World: “The Elements of Memory (or, two days ago was my birthday).”
Here’s an excerpt:
1. Earth: A backyard that is really a liquor store parking lot, a grey North London sky, a small child in her winter coat, swinging herself on a metal swing squeezed between two concrete walls, wishing she could fly; wishing that she had English parents because English people believed in pets. But instead of English parents, she got herself a shoebox and filled it with ants, and gave these tiny, shiny insects a few leaves to nibble. She pierced breathing holes in the lid of the box and tucked it into the corner of a crumbling air-raid shelter in her backyard parking lot. She went out every day to replenish the leaves and to spend time with the ants. She never tired of speaking to the ants even though they did not return the favor; they also did not sit in her lap or curl up at the foot of her bed. Instead, they traversed the cell-like cardboard until she felt badly that she had incarcerated them. So she returned them to the only bit of the Earth she had ever known—the wilds of North London streets.
2. Air: Wilds? Seriously? Well, North London Streets can be wild for children who feel like they do not belong. These children find each other on buses and trains; they find each other in bars that turn a blind eye to underage drinkers; they find themselves feeding ducks in city parks; they find themselves at political marches and rallies, they find themselves in the pages of books—the ones they are reading, and the ones they are secretly writing. But most of all they find themselves in music. In my time, North London streets have given the world Boy George and George Michael. North London streets have given the world Adele. And North London streets gave the world Amy Winehouse.
Read the rest at The Writer in the World.