The concept of 'home' is something I've been exploring for a few years, and have more recently become quite obsessed with. Since I'll be moving to a new abode in September, and since it will be my first taste of co-habiting with a partner, there are lots of thoughts and ideas and fears and excitements mixing around in my head and my heart, and I thought it'd be fun to start a feature detailing some of these emotions. We'll start with a bit of background history...
What does 'home' really mean?
I'm not sure what it means for me yet, but that's not because I haven't thought about it; I have, a lot, sometimes for hours and days on end. Since starting University in 2005, I've lived in 6 different places. One room in a dreaded University corridor, one house shared with good friends, one tiny studio in a French village, one top-floor room in a shared flat in Germany, one room in a gorgeous house with 2 strangers, and one tiny bedsit in the backstreets of York. I've lived alone for the past three years, and have enjoyed every aspect of this odd and sometimes unnerving experience; after only a few days of waking up in an empty studio in France, I came to thrive on the solitude and the independance, to the point where having housemates seemed like a sorry second option.
Before moving to University, the situation wasn't much different. We moved house four times in under seven years, and even so, I spent every weekday at a childminder's home from being two weeks old. Even if we'd stayed in one place long enough to create a foundation to house all of our family memories, I'm not sure I'd have spent enough time there to really create my own sense of space. Until 2000, that is, when we finally found that shell in which my parents could start creating what they'd been dreaming of for years. This, I think, is what I'm looking for right now; a space where I can express myself by the way I live and where I live. I just hope it doesn't take me as long to find somewhere suitable!
When I left for University it was clear that I was moving out. I knew I wouldn't come back unless I really had to, and the only time I did come back for more than a week was between my time in France and Germany - an odd yet enjoyable 2 months where I was able to pretend that I lived here again. Because, of course, once you move away, your family home becomes a precious luxury. Childhood memories wait there for you to come back - teddies, photos, tantrums, favourite meals; when I come home I get to re-live it all again. I realize now that, though the building changed through the years, the place where I grew up remained the same; my 'home' was amongst my family, adventurous weekends in forests and mountains and streams, Enid Blyton stories, playing on the swing that my Dad built, the chaos of cousins, sleepovers at my Grandparents' house.
Whether they stay here or move on, the place where my family calls home will always be my home, too. But now I get to create another home, with someone really special. I'll be a bit like David Cameron, or the Queen, I suppose. It's not surprising that I never felt 'at home' during the previous 5 years of moving from place to place, but now Daniel and I get to build our own foundation, with our own stories and habits and ways of doing things, our own special Sunday routines and Friday night treats, games cupboards and bookshelves and what will eventually become a really pleasurable nostalgia to pass on to (dare I say it?) our children/nieces/grandchildren.
In answer to my own question, then, 'home' for me is the workings, excentricities and routines that take place in a family. The house is the stage where all of this takes place, important, but not always constant. What does home mean for you? Where is home for you?