No place like home

Homes. A funny old thing to think about because I (Crumpet) spend my working life teaching people how to look after theirs. But I moved house and spent most of this year boring Pandapants to death about it so now I’ve done it so there and here’s this:

PANDA:

Dear Flat,

I’m gonna level with you, I never used to like you very much at all. When me, my EX Husband and young Master C moved in it was quite exciting at first. I was all ‘Ooooh new flat’ but then that wore off and I started to notice the things I didn’t like about you. You’ve no Fireplace…Why do you have no fireplace I HATE that and what was with all the blown Vinyl IN EVERY ROOM (We’re not in the 70’s anymore mate) Your bathroom was mouldy and our bedroom was cold. Really cold, like the bed feels wet because it’s so cold. Oh god your drains…Did you have to wait till we had company round to let off the smell that can only be described as EGGY DEATH. Nope we were not friends I wasn’t happy, you were a temporary stop-gap till we could move into a house.

Then my relationship with my EX finally came to an end and he moved out. It was cold and snowy flat but something strange happened. I felt like you were supporting me. I felt like you were taking care of the three of us. You suddenly felt cozy and the dampness went away even my Ice box of a bedroom was less well Icy. I covered your blown vinyl walls with pictures and pretty things. Friends and family rallied round and bought and made you stuff, little things to show we were being thought of. You made us feel safe and protected…Here I was a single Mum living alone for the first time in years yet I felt secure.

You embraced me through the hard early months, provided me with a place to cry and yell and feel sorry for myself. Remember the nights when I’d get a bit drunk and try to break-dance on your kitchen floor? Or put those dreadful Karaoke videos on You Tube on and sing my head off. I was therapizing myself and you were there to support me.

I’d never bothered planting bulbs the previous year, to preoccupied with going through a break up. Yet spring rolled around and you managed to magically produce daffodils and tulips and bluebells in abundance.

The summer you filled with light, me and the boys would spend our days dressing up as Super Heroes and running round the garden the evenings I would sit out drinking tea pondering what the future held. I was happy and I was beginning to appreciate you a bit more.

Even our first Christmas together when we all got ill and the turkey didn’t get cooked, is a happy memory for me. Because there we were just me and the boys snuggled up on the sofa together watching Elf and it was perfect.

I once saw only fault in you, at one time I was so desperate to move out of you yet you have supported me through so much. You’ve watched me struggle at times to be a single Mum then blossom into a darn good one. you’ve watched me pour over Essays then welcome in an actual client. You’ve seen my crying over silly boys and laughing with good friends till wee nearly comes out. I’ve made more happy memories in the last two years than I ever have. I realised I wasn’t running from you before, I was trying desperately to escape the situation I was in.

Six years I’ve been here now, almost two of those just me and the boys. You were once a temporary situation, I was waiting for something better to come along. Now though you have become my home and I love you very much. You’ve been a proper nest for me to bring up my not so small humans in and for that I’m eternally grateful.  Of course one day we will have to part, see the small people they just keep on growing as does our ever-expanding LEGO collection. We’ll need to move on but it will be with a heavy heart that I do.

I also know that you’re a much better home since we’ve been here, you only have to walk through the door to feel how much love there is (Unless it’s I’M COOKING DINNER WILL YOU PICK THOSE BLOODY TOYS UP time) I know when our time does come to part that you’ll welcome in another family and protect them just like you’ve done us.

Until that time comes though let’s continue to have ALL the fun and make even more memories and I promise to dust you a bit more if you lay off the eggy death drains.

CRUMPET:

I moved house. This is the 10th time I’ve moved in as many years, and pretty much every single time it’s felt like home. I’m good at doing Home. I’m as happy staying put as I am a victim of itchy feet. Sometimes it’s just time for a change and sometimes I feel like I’d gladly stay somewhere forever. I have a lot of stuff, as previously discussed. I am a hoarder and having my Stuff all around me makes me feel cosy and homely wherever I am. Wherever I lay my 412 hats, that’s my home.

When I first left home and packed myself off to art college, my parents moved house. They massively downsized, and I know now that aside from other issues this was largely to help pay for me to go to university, for which I am more than eternally grateful. So much so that I somehow ended up studying for 5 years at 4 different institutions. Ahem. But when I went ‘home’ that summer, the place they moved to didn’t feel like my home. They moved from a 5 bedroom house with a gigantic garden, to a 2 and a half bedroom cottage. It is beautiful and quaint and the front is covered in rambling roses. There’s a pond where my mum studies the movements of the resident frogs each year and teaches it to her science class. There’s a funny little pretend fireplace and just about room for the piano, which was the first Big Grown Up Thing my mum ever bought when she entered the World Of Work (at WH Smiths’ head office, in the late 1970s). But there’s never been space for my things. And I just didn’t have any Moments there. I have no history with that house. I’d been a naughty child and a grumpy teenager in their old house. I’d done my Growing Up there. My room had been built especially for me, as an extension, and I’d even written a ‘certificate’ on the plaster declaring that “this wall was once outside but now it’s inside” so future generations would know that room was built all for me. We haven’t lived there for 11 years but I still get a lightning-fast glimmer in my brain where if I am heading to see my parents, or if I dream of ‘home’, that it’s that house I see, and not their little rose-covered cottage.

When my ex and I were deciding on where we would live – chosing between Brighton, Melbourne and London, I threw around that ridiculous cliché, that “home is with you” and it doesn’t matter where we are as long as we are together. How disgustingly soppy. However I took myself by surprise by being terrified of feeling at home in Melbourne, because it really is terribly far away from the Thames. Went to great lengths to make sure I was just miserable enough to always feel like I wanted to get back to London at some point. Even bought myself some ruby slippers. (which have ended up coming to everywhere I’ve visited since, incidentally. I even hear I left a few of their little red sequins scattered around LA last month).

Home is where you make it, and for whatever reason, I find it pretty easy to feel at home almost anywhere. Pretty much any place I visit on holiday, I’ll say at least once “yeah I could see myself living here” – Thailand, France, Swindon…. ok not Swindon. That bit was a joke. And I know it’s terribly materialistic of me to think that as long as I have all of my shit around me – my antique floral desk lamp, records, books and books and books, letters from lost lovers, postcards from friends, handmade gifts from sweet baby cousins, then anywhere will feel like home – but I do feel like those things help me feel settled somewhere.

My recent move has been so fluid and easy and calm, apart from the moment where I had to choose between sawing the legs off of my handmade antique desk, or sawing the legs off of my brother, that it’s not surprising that I feel totally at home after just over a week. I’d hardly been quiet about my living situation these past 2 years. Despite being a Londoner born n bred (shutup it’s only Essex a BIT), it was my first time renting in this glorious city. 150a was the perfect home at the perfect time – the dots all joined up so that I fell in to the right place at the right time. Living there with close friends gave me the strength and the opportunity to move on from a lot of things that had been tied to my ankles the previous year. A lot of my life in that house was like therapy. It worked. And my new home is just up the road, but is a little calmer, and a little neater, with more room to relax and have my things in order. Which is perfect, because it’s just like how I feel inside my brain, now

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3 Responses to No place like home

  1. I liked this post, as it reflects many things I have also been thinking about lately. About what makes a house a home and how long it’s been since the two fell into place for me. Hopefully this will be another kick in the bum towards actually doing something about that.

  2. Great post as ever. It’s funny how home is whatever you make it. When I was living with my ex we lived in an AMAZING house. I completely loved it, it was brilliant in every single way. When we broke up 3 years ago, I was devastated to have to leave the house yet I knew I couldn’t stay because it would have been too painful with too many memories. Oddly, some one I knew ended up moving in which was very odd. I was completely crapping myself when I had to go round there for the first time – yet when I did it was so completely different it didn’t upset me at all. It was no longer the ‘home’ I had left, it was just the ‘house’ I once lived in. For that I was very grateful.

    My current flat is a funny one. It’s run down, (and can’t even be classed as shabby chic!) but it’s bee there for me in a lot of ways Panda mentioned and for that I love it.

    I’ll be moving next year (in with the boy!) which I’m excited and yet terrified about. I’ve moved so many times in the last 8 years….I just want to settle, yet really….my home is all of my stuff…and whenever I am, I’ll make it my own.

  3. pandacrumpet says:

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment…Lovely people. xx

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