Frank Turner – FTHC (2022)

So here it is, the ending
The one that neither of us ever thought was coming
The black letter day when we’re finally, irrevocably done
And I am really, actually leaving the place I used to call home.

Seven thousand three hundred days, give or take
Of swearing blind that I’d never leave and that I’d always stay
But strange as it sounds, when the change came around
I realized there were plenty of vows
I made as a kid that I’d broken
But that kid got lost somewhere around Camden
. – Frank Turner, “Farewell to My City”

Singer/songwriter Frank Turner released his bitter sweet ode to leaving London, “Farewell to My City” on his 2022 album “FTHC.”

Sometime the song that represents your most crushing fear turns into a song of motivation.  For me, this summer, that anthem has been Frank Turner’s “Farewell to My City” from his 2022 album “FTHC.”

It was a year ago where we first talked about me leaving Peterborough behind.  During a moment of crisis, it was suggested that packing up my stuff and leaving the life I knew behind may be an option.  But I stubbornly dug my heels in and vowed I’d never leave.  I had connections here.  I had friendships and roots, and I was a community member.  Leaving town would be the worst thing that I could do to myself.  It would destroy my happiness, isolate me and hinder my marriage. I had a million excuses why i could never leave my city, and I believed every one of them was true.

That night, with my brain racing and gripped with anxiety, I crept off to a quiet place while Griz slept and I pulled out my phone and played “Farewell to My City.”  I listened to Frank Turner’s autobiographical and deeply personal narration of his walk-through London on the dawn of leaving it behind, walking past the landmarks of his life and remembering all the time that made up his story.  The bars and the friends and the moments. I thought about my own city, and the streets I walk through every day, and the familiar faces and places and  I wondered how could I ever leave it.  As the song reached its emotional crescendo, I began to weep bitterly, asking myself what was I going to do. I vowed I would never, ever, leave no matter what.

But a year goes by, and it’s a year of struggle, and no matter how much I try to reclaim what I once thought was so important, nothing seems to hit.  I begin to question if I really belong here anymore. How much of a “community member” am I, and what does that term even mean, and is it actually important?  My nights seem longer, my walks seem lonelier and soon all I seem to do is just wait for those couple of days a month when my spouse comes to town from their city four hours away. It’s when I’m with Griz that I truly feel secure, wanted and that I belong.

My final week in the city I called home. Does it even feel like home anymore, or is it time to say farewell to my city.

Suddenly another summer has come and gone and your once questionable neighborhood goes from seeming like a whimsical challenge to the edge of the Hellmouth, and you start to wonder why you are even living here.  People say this city has changed, but has it really?  Perhaps it has, or perhaps I have.  I begin to wonder why am I even hanging on to this anymore.  Is it fear?  Is it pride?  Probably a little bit of both, but now I’m making compromises and deals with myself that if I  can just get these four elements of my life to fall into place then maybe I can once again regain my lost status of being a big fish in a tiny pond.  But then I realize that, wait….maybe I don’t want that at all.  That false sense of self importance has been kicked out of me long ago, and that moment in time is gone, and really, do I want it back? It was all an illusion of self grandeur, and a belief in a private mythology that was always nothing more than a figment of my own delusions.  In the past year I’ve struggled, but I’ve also grown.  I’ve come to learn what is really important to me.  I’ve evolved, and perhaps far beyond than what this city can offer me anymore.

And then you ask yourself, what is home anyways?  Is it familiar streets and roots you’ve laid down?  Perhaps it is.  But perhaps its also a nice safe home in a good neighborhood with a companion who wants you with them.  Maybe its time for me to stop trying to be all those things I’ve tried to be and just go and be a husband for a while.

I’ve always treated my friends in my inner circle like my family, and for the most part they don’t even live here anymore. I’m one of the few who never moved on. I’m the constant who always stayed. My family and my best friends will still be there tomorrow no matter where I go. I need to mix things up a bit and walk new streets, find new experiences and new places.

And suddenly “Farewell to My City” becomes something else to me.  It becomes an anthem of affirmation as I begin to tear the world I’ve known for so long down and stare into an unknown future. I’m leaving, but the fear has been replaced by hope and optimism.

What 3900 records look like all bagged up and ready for the movers. Each durable Dollarama bag holds approximately 60-70 alums, and a new city means new record stores to explore.

And now I’m in my final days, and I go for that walk down the streets I’ve been haunting for the past 35 years and trying to say goodbye to my city just like Frank Turner said goodbye to London.  I keep looking for that little moment of melancholy, where I say to myself “I’m going to miss this” or a moment of longing or regrets of things that could have been or things that should have been.  But you know what?  I don’t find it. I tear up when saying goodbye to the people in my inner circle, but I haven’t even told this city I’m leaving. I don’t even want to say goodbye. I just want to join Griz in our new home and start our new life in my new city.   What happened to the feeling I felt for these streets once upon a time?  Perhaps some distance will bring the love I had for this city back again one day. Besides, its not like I wont be back, and often. I’m not moving to Siberia. I’ll be back in October, I’ll be back at Christmas, I’ll be back next spring. I’ll go to the places I long for, I’ll find the people that keep me in their radar. As Frank Turner says to London, “We can still see each other at shows.”

I once said, “Home is where your stuff is.”  Well, if this is true, then this apartment is no longer a home.  My valuables have already made it to my new home now and I’m living in a space filled with boxes, dust and plaster damage and bags full of records, but no turn table to play them on. But wow! A new city means new record shops, and that is something to be excited about! I already have new places to explore!

And today we are in the truck, with two sleeping cats in the cab and 3500 records in the back and I realize that home is not where people know your name.  Home is where you find a sense of belonging. It’s where your records are and where music plays all the times. It’s where you feel safe, you feel loved, and you are wanted. For me, it’s not the place I once called home. There’s something else for me down the highway.

Farewell to my city.
Farewell to my city.
Farewell to my city.

Farewell to my city.

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