I didn’t know if I was going to make this post or not but as I had a lot to say I figure it might help. I’m a very sentimental person; not about objects so much as places. As you read this, I will be in my home town which isn’t home anymore. I will be saying goodbye to the family home and helping my parents and younger sister move into a new house. A lot of things will be different so I thought I would write about how I’m feeling.
Firstly, it’s hard to let go of home. My whole world resided in that house for twelve years. I grew up in that house. I had thousands of experiences in those rooms. I became an adult within those walls. That house has seen all of my successes and all of my downfalls. It watched me reluctantly move there when I was eight years old and scared of having to be in a new place, go to a new school and make new friends. It saw me grow with plenty new friends and actually excel at my new school. It saw me move schools twice after that. It saw me adopt two furry kittens and love them as I grew up with them.
It saw my many rollercoaster relationships and friendships. It saw my break ups and change of friendship groups. It saw a hundred family arguments and thousands of family dinners. It saw my nerves for SATs and GCSE’s and then A levels and then my applications to many universities. I played in that house, I laughed in that house, I bumped heads and grazed knees and learned things and grew up and cried and yelled and studied and celebrated and then I boxed up my stuff and moved out of it. But I still went back occasionally.
Visiting home is the second biggest part of this move. For the last two years I have lived in London and gone home the few times a year I could. I went home for familiarity and it felt good to be in a place I know like the back of my hand, to return to the clean and colourful home I grew up in. It felt like putting my feet back on the ground, reconnecting with my roots. Now, I don’t have that.
My home is the place I made myself. The maisonette in London, with the SW postcode so many people are envious of yet in the house you wouldn’t envy if you knew it. Home is the shoddy door and the smelly hallway, the busy lounge with the big television, the small kitchen, worn out tables and the hole in the floorboards hiding underneath the fridge. Home is the carpets still grey from the flood but clean, I’m reassured. Home is the frustration of resilient cat hair on the sofa from the stray lady I welcome in for dinner and safe cuddles. Home is the garden with the grave of our hamster who passed away with an abrupt warning of the gas leak we didn’t know we had. Home is in the peroxide stains on the bathroom floor that the landlords will no doubt chase me about. Home is my bedroom on the left. The largest, the master bedroom, the mandala rugs on the cheap laminate flooring, the dresser stuffed to the brim, the wardrobe and the second wardrobe. Home is the white desk beautifully littered with crystals and shells, the blue buddha by my bed with the crisp white sheets and the blue lanterns above it. Home is reflected through the floor length mirror, seeing the bedside table smothered with night creams and candles whose flames flicker in a fast paced dance when I click the windows open to the safety latch, the long grey curtains I hung up myself framing them.
So as home is now London, a maisonette filled with keepsakes that give me away, when I go back to my small town roots, there is no longer a house I can call a home. It will be a visit not a return to home and it will my parent’s house and not mine. I will not make memories in the new house, it is a blank canvas but I won’t be there to paint my story.
The story of my childhood is gently sketched and yet unapologetically spattered all over the old home. The story of my twenties, coming into adulthood, will be told through different walls. And I realise now, that it’s okay, I’ve been drawing my existence here for a while now. It’s not loss, it’s just change, as I am also changing.
My old dorm room notes my existence in the hole I accidentally put in the wall when I was moving my room around, in the pink nail polish stain on the desk that I failed to scrub off. My second year can be found in this maisonette right here, in the table we scuffed playing beer pong, in the mark made when I accidentally set fire to the hob, in the parts of the walls that have chipped because I blue tacked motivational messages and pictures to cover suspicious looking lumps.
I have another year to paint my university story in this same household, along with the people that know me better than anyone else in the world. And this time next year we will all move on again to a different house. Probably separately, all in our own worlds and following our own paths. We will shut the door on another house that will hold our secrets until it’s knocked down long in the future and made into more high rise flats. The next tenants will see that we were there and that’s what is important; leaving your mark, hints that you were there.
I was there, in that colourful family home, each room boasting a different decor, tailored perfectly to it’s inhabitant. Maybe they’ll wonder about us, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll strip our chosen bedroom wallpapers, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll remove as much of us as they can but the fact remains: the house holds the memories as well as we do in our minds.
You’re not a child anymore, I have to remind myself. I left my toddler self in a tiny house in Kidderminster. I left my childhood in a family home in Stourport. I left my fresher year in a cramped dorm room in Roehampton. Now, I have one more year to make memories of university life in this beat up maisonette before I leave this phase of my life too for a minimalist apartment in central London.
Onwards to adulthood.
Love, Hannah x