Nowhere Land

In A Sense of Place, 11. A Cosmopolitan Sense of Place by John Banksy1 Comment

Where is my sense of home? Like Pico Iyer, I’m not always sure how to answer. In one sense I’m from Southern New Jersey, yet for the past ten years, I’ve wanted nothing more than to get as far away from it as possible. It’s not that New Jersey is a bad place to grow up. Many people grow fond of this place and community. However, I think I became disillusioned by the suburban life because of things that occurred during my time there. I think that had a lot to do with how I grew up rather than where I grew up.

I had a troubling youth, to say the least. Up until my 18th birthday, I had been abused. I lived with this torment for many years. A growing fear manifested inside of me, and then I began developing a growing defiance for all authority figures. The growing contempt leaked into many facets of my life that caused things to spiral out of control.

Because of this, I would end up traveling a difficult path in life. When I decided on my 18th birthday that I would leave my home for good, I had very little money to sustain myself. In spite of this, I knew I had to leave in order to find my own sense of self that I couldn’t seem to find at home. I ended up in various places throughout the next 3 years. All of these places were scattered along the NJ coast. One of which was a dilapidated dwelling on a mainland in NJ. This was the first place I would call my own and it was the cheapest I could find at $400 a month. The room was on the third floor in an attic. The owner of the house was addicted to Oxycontin, and he used my rent money to support his pill habit. During my time there I remember feeling a deep need to improve my circumstances. I wasn’t complacent with where I was and I feared that if I stayed there any longer I would become something I never wanted to be.

After months of living there I discovered that my cousin had lived in the room I was staying in two years prior. He was eventually evicted after he developed a heroin habit and couldn’t keep up with the rent. After that discovery, I knew I had to do something to improve my life. That was a defining moment for me. Finding myself in a home that was not ideal, cozy, or filled with love was necessary for my development. Home for me is not a place I have ever wanted to return to. Home for me has always been a stepping-stone for the next phase in life. I will always be looking for the next phase in life. I need not settle down just yet because I only want to continue to move forward.


  1. This was a very poignant read. I really relate to this as someone who was also put through an intense cycle of abuse as a child that ultimately skewed my sense of place as well. It can be nearly impossible for someone to have a sense of place when they’ve been forced to adapt for many years and simply tolerate their surroundings, leaving people like us in kind of a void space that exists before being truly “cosmopolitan”. You are brave to share your story and I’m so proud that you’ve come so far. Achieving so much when there is very little help to be had is such an accomplishment.

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