As I contemplate a return to London this weekend I’ve taken to wondering if I’m going home or leaving one.
There is no doubt that going back to be by my husbands side, geographically separated only to shield O and I from the dust and dirt of the building work, will mean we’ve come home. We both miss him terribly…O seeks out S’s photo in my i-photo album (under the pretence of apping into Talking Tom Cat and I remind you he is only 20 months old) and calls out to his picture, visibly put out that it won’t facetime him back. For me silly things have caught me out…seeing a curled and yellowed picture of his dad which I mistook for S, looking at his car (now ‘ours’ but when I see it I see him ) and thinking of things he might say to a given situation. But I’ve also spent some quality time discovering his home…here in the North East. In the past I have always been chaperoned. This time I’ve had to make friends with it all alone. I’ve gotten to know the area helped not just by the absence of a sat nav but also by his dad who is the best tour guide you could want. I’ve been made to feel welcome by his mam with whom O and I have stayed …and I’ve taken to referring to her house as ‘going home’. I’ve been hugged and welcomed by his aunt and uncle who embrace O as their grandson and who we are honoured to have as grandparents. And I have been introduced to friends and activities by his sister whose children I can’t wait to see get into mischief with our own little boy. Finally, after six years, North Yorkshire has become my home too.
But there is something scary about going back to a site which actually no longer is there. Everything has changed so dramatically in my absence that I’m not sure what I’ll recognise anymore. That is a good thing, I appreciate, but this blog is written by a control freak…. will it be the home I visualised? Or, if its not, will the fact that its not mean that it has become the home we are both visualising …my tunnel vision having been diffused to allow for S to influence its trajectory? Either way I’m ready to get my sleeves rolled up again and take an active roll in driving us, (metaphorically as S will probably do the diesel consuming driving this weekend) ‘home’..the responsibility having fallen at S’s feet for an unfairly long time now.
This feels like only the third time I’ve ever tried to make a home. I’ve owned six of my own flats -not all at once mind but I bought and sold over time. In addition I’ve moved into and helped decorate one of S’s and now we own a house together. That’s eight homes then, right? So wrong.
Most of the flats were bought and refurbished with resale in mind, but flat number 6 I tried to make my home. I have referred to it before but to remind you, the building work conducted, though not as significant, was dramatic in unpleasant ways and culminated in me taking the builder to the small claims court. Everything about it was horrible apart from the opportunity to spend three weeks with my dad and his friend as they dug me out of my, oft waterfilled, hole. I fell out of love with it at many stages but eventually, after the bad memories faded, I fell for it again as the finished product was simply everything I had dreamed of. The sleek white and grey kitchen, the dark slate bathroom and the grey exposed plaster walls all looked, I thought, very cool despite my nan (and others) asking “so what colour are you going to paint this?” It was my singleton flat… but I didn’t stay single for very much longer.
Flat number 1 was, perhaps inevitably, another. It coincided with the very first issue of Livingetc featuring a blue mosaic bathroom and my Dad drove a bootload of swimming pool tiles over from Spain to recreate the look for next to nowt. I have been a fan (of the mag) ever since. The tiles I grew out of – eventually- but not before lots of happy memories were created. It was a flat done on a shoestring but I thought it looked a million dollars.
The third is this pebbledashed pad. It’s needed a pretty big dose of vision but I’ve always had faith that our home was in there somewhere… under the wallpaper, under the varnish, hidden in the odd layout, disguised by grotty carpets, its allure obscured by a sky blue door. I worry that in the past I’ve never quite ‘finished’ anywhere ( see Abigail Ahern’s observation about how many of us stop decorating too soon which is something I’m guilty of … Abigal Ahern blog ) …but I think I’ve worked out the reason. To make a house a home you have to live in it, and I don’t think I ever really have. I’ve always been planning my next move and never accepted that I’m in the present. This time I hope that S, O and I can stop chasing our tails or following our noses and instead enjoy the time that is now. I think that way we will slowly build, step by step, picture by picture, frame by frame, scatter cushion by scatter cushion (uh oh..I’ve lost S now…) our family home.
Inspiration from Abigail Ahern….we are planning a library wall in the snug which we hope to use to ‘disguise’ the TV but I like the ideas here too of breaking up the space with pictures and having drawers/cupboards beneath…
Progress in the snug with boards sanded…