Southampton is a place that I have to say I associated with an ill fated liner and regular transatlantic crossings. It's not a place I knew much about or a place I ever thought I would spend as much time as I have done in. Nor would the reason for that stay have been my husband's cancer treatment. Life just likes to fuck around with you at times, doesn’t it?
In the near 10 weeks I have been here, I have learned about the history of the everyday people who lost their lives on the Titanic, the workers who were neither Jack nor Rose. I have seen the scars of its wars with the France and Germany. I have learned of its own connection the Mayflower, which I had always associated with Plymouth.
Southampton is a city where cruises dock daily and tourists wander taking in the various plaques showing its connection to Jane Austen. They photograph the mish mash of architectural styles from its castle walls to the towering student housing flats that dominate the landscape as well its city walls and Tudor relics dotted about the Old Town.
Like most of Britain’s coastal cities, it has its social problems which are visible on its streets. There is a sizeable homeless population. I have seen outreach workers trying to reach those with mental health problems. On any given weekend and during football matches a heavy police presence are about and you can hear disturbances of those who have had one too many. These aren’t problems unique to Southampton. You can see this picture all over the country. They are the product of the socio political class that has dominated this country for too long.
All that said, Southampton has been kind to me in the time I have been here.
My time here can be called what my therapist always refers to as a "dark gift." For those who don't follow my video updates of my husband's extended stay at Southampton General Hospital, I refer to these "dark gifts" often. These are positive things born out of what feels like dark and hopeless times. They are lessons that help you rise above the negativity and remind you that even in darkness, there exists light.
For this Bronx-born New York City boy who has been living a quiet existence in the wilds of West Cornwall, my time here has reawakened parts of myself that have been dormant and unused. It has also reignited my street smarts. In many ways, it has laid the foundation for what comes next.
I have had to dig deep to find the courage and confidence to deal with hospital bureaucracy, social services and my own solitude. I have filled my own down time with reading, re-engaging with foreign languages I haven't used in years and observing life again. In fact, re-engaging with life, which is something I haven't been able to do since before the first days of the pandemic.
I have found myself writing notes for future products and working on current ones when I am not exhausted. In my solitary walks which are often, I find myself snapping photos of this city. It is eclectic in its architectural make up, infuriating with its traffic system, and only minutes from outstanding beauty just outside of its city limits.
Yet, it has come to occupy a special place in my heart during this difficult time. It is now a part of me as any place is that I have had any extended relationship with.
I wanted to share a small selection of what I have seen here, my mood and just a little insight into the last 10 weeks.
(All photos taken by John Lugo-Trebble)
John Lugo-Trebble considers this more of a space to engage personal reflections and memories with connections to music and film.