My first idea of home was a physical place.
A chocolate block door, lavender bushes, a corridor covered wall-to-wall in 6 year old art work.
A house at the centre of a cul-de-sac, with its broken letter box and peeling white paint. My family moved here when my mum was pregnant with me and my brother (I’m a twin just to clarify), and they weren’t even in the market for a house. They just went searching one rainy day, curious, and fell in love with it.
I was born into this house and I can so vividly remember existing inside its walls. I would run everywhere, knowing always where I needed to go. I would jump, no leap, from the top of the jungle gym in our large garden of green grass, not looking down but looking out. Our neighbourhood was close, knit together as if we were family. We would come together for Guy Fawkes to set off fireworks at night, all us kids trying to grab the dazzling sparkles from the sky. We would ride our bikes around all the drive ways, racing each other from one drive way to the other, while also speeding down the hill, daring each other to slam on the brakes. I would pick flowers from the neighbour’s garden to put into my magical potions and then our elderly neighbour would invite me in for a biscuit and I would try my best to have what I thought were grown-up conversations. Living here in this house, in this neighbourhood, was a dream. It was the place I felt most happy and can remember feeling happy. As I said, I was born into this house and hence, it was the only place I had known my whole life.
That is…until I was fourteen and things got complicated. Suddenly, we were packing boxes, moving on. Days were spent frantically searching for a new place to house my creaky bed, numerous books and faded photos. The house was cleaner than I’d ever seen it, memories and moments being packed away slowly, day by day. Strangers walked through our house in the weekends as all the kids sat outside at the table studying for our exams. This was our house, not theirs. It was mine. The place where I grew up, where I cried and laughed and made cakes and lay on the couch sick and made up cheer leading routines on the trampoline. And so when The Day came it felt wrong to leave, like sitting in this car, with our cat on my lap and following behind the moving truck, was betrayal of all those years we’d spent here.
This is when everything changed.
We moved to a new house, with brown walls and white tiles – it seemed so sterile. The house was on a busy road, with cars zooming past at all times of the day, and so far away from our quiet and secluded cul-de-sac. I have never understood that feeling of being so unsettled until that moment when the moving truck backed out of the drive way and we closed the door. I slept that first night in an unfamiliar room, with my mattress on the floor and boxes surrounding me. Even when those boxes were slowly unpacked it wasn’t the same. No more neighbours traipsing through the door with no warning. It was just closed windows, hoping to keep out the sound of passing buses and speeding cars. It was still all of our stuff, everything that had been in the house before now moved here, and yet this wasn’t home.
However, when you pulled out such a physical sense of home from under my feet like a rug, I was forced to look and find what my idea of home really was, beyond the physical aspect. It took me a while. In fact, it has probably taken me the whole three years we are coming up to have been living in this new house. I looked around me and realised that those same people surrounding me in this new house, my family, had been around me in the old house. It isn’t about the chocolate block door, the lavender bushes, or corridor covered in 6 year old artwork. It’s about the people who you surround yourself with, the people who you love and who love you. It’s about a place where you feel most comfortable, the most able and free to be yourself. It’s the place we would go every summer holidays – Red Beach. It’s the way I feel when I dive under a nearly-breaking-wave. My hair wet, salty, my feet bare. It’s in the way I traipse around the campgrounds, so free and so myself. It’s in the way I laugh with my sisters, my friends, my family, all of those that I hold dear. It’s the way I feel when I write words on paper, or sing while strumming my black guitar. My home has no bounds, no restricting walls, no real physical tangibility.
We still talk about all the memories at the old house, tales of our childhood and days spent out on the grass. But I know now that home can be so much more.
Four walls and a roof may make a house, but they do not make a home.
Love Brecon Xx