#MyBrightonStory: A Letter To A City That Taught Me To Feel Alive

"My Brighton Story" is a new born series of articles told by our Brighton Girls. This is about telling your personal story, your relationship with Brighton - the city we all call home. This can be anything from how you have found your path here, how you have grown up here, how you have fallen in and out of love with this place. We all have our personal story with this special city and this is the space to tell it.  

Here's an open letter by our Brighton Girl Lydia:

"Dear Brighton,

You know, you were never a city I thought I’d end up in. I’m from a long way away, but I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Salena Godden once wrote a poem, and it has a little me in it that describes you well: “we do not hold hands with hate.” As a city you do exactly that. And you have taught me that over and over again. If I could, I’d change the line to “this is the city that does not hold hands with hate.” Even now it’s ironic to borrow the words of someone else; I lack the descriptive powers.

2012 was when I first visited. 2017-18 was when I came to study, up to three times a week. And I hope that you’ll one day be my home. 

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Studying was my own personal “turning point”. I was disillusioned, dissatisfied, disappointed, due to a lot of different things. I was sick of having to prove my worth, sick of the pettiness of cliches, sick of being told I was not worth the while due to being on the Autistic spectrum.

Over time you were the place that changed my thoughts, my feelings, and probably me as a person. For the better. Nobody gave a damn! And that was the best feeling in the world; to believe for a moment that you are normal, not an outlier, to be told that you can do anything. Sure, there were isolated incidents of unpleasantness, but you’re the city that makes me feel welcome. It is event reflected in your street art!

My dream to become a journalist took flight; after so many years, it finally seemed tangible. Teachers, pupils, friends had told me it wouldn’t be possible; after all, who would want to work in a typically louche industry?! Apparently I should have undertaken an English degree. I’m so glad I decided to chart my own course instead.

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I took a picture; with this it seemed real.

I met some of the best journalists; they taught me to treasure and cherish a profession that’s under attack. They taught me to care, care about your “just causes”, care about injustices, to care about people.

It was the best of times, the worst of times.

Brighton is the city I got to meet two of my friends, the “best of me”; we’d have philosophical conversations waiting for the train, debating the merits of things such as communism, or chatting about the work of Harry Leslie Smith. The other with her head of blonde curls and crimson smile turned out to be an investigative reporter.

I saw concerts and performances that were culturally rich; singing "I’m Outta Love" until my throat was sore, or teaching my grandmother to dance at Althea gig of an independent artist. Or trying “artisan” food; Belgian chips or a ridiculously sugary sundae? And no one can forget the dancing Zebra with his keyboard.

I would never change any of that. You taught me to feel alive, above everything else; I thank you for that."

- Lydia x

Written by Lydia Wilkins

Find her on Twitter and Instagram, too.

If you want to tell your individual Brighton story, tell us about it via the tag #MyBrightonStory or email us a hello@brightongirlmag.com and get featured in the Magazine.