Being home

It changes when you move away, the perspective. The familiar is still familiar but you see it through a different lens. The old lens has long been cast aside. Or maybe it’s still the old lens but it’s transformed over the years. You’re still holding the camera and you decide the angle. Which is why memory can be so unreliable.

I used to think that home was a place, and then I started to think it wasn’t. Home was something inside you. Probably true, or at least it feels as if it were true but place is more important than we allow ourselves to believe at times, or maybe that’s just the case when you leave. Home, that to which you return to, where you came from, is still there and is always there but only while ever it is still there.

It was sitting by a Yorkshire range with the fire burning in my mother’s house this weekend. The fierceness of the heat, that slight smell of fumes. I say my mother’s house, although I could equally say my father’s house. It is each of their houses and for different reasons. It’s an old house with history and a memory. It’s not our house. It belongs to itself. We are just passing through. They were cloth weavers and butchers before us, generations of the same families. They gave meaning to the meaning of the family home.

When I was a little girl I used to tell my mother there was a ghost there, and she was a woman. There probably was, but it doesn’t matter if there wasn’t. Sometimes I wonder. My boys still don’t like going upstairs by themselves, just like I never did. I used to run up the stairs and across the landing to the bathroom and then run back downstairs and hardly breathing. The ghost lived near the bathroom. Who knows how she died or why.

I know every inch of that house, every creak of its floors, every fault in its draughty windows. I go back and I feel myself move into it. It wraps itself around me. And then I leave it again, until next time. It’s purely emotional and always will be.

Then I come back home and I’m on my sofa eating mozzarella di bufala and Tuscan prosciutto crudo in front of the TV with my husband, having put the kids to bed before, in a kind of tableau to married middle aged life. Only I’m a protagonist now.

And once more I’m back at home.

2 thoughts on “Being home

  1. I like this idea about the ghosts. My cousin says that if you don’t believe in them they will never show themselves to you…how convenient! Isn’t it funny how some people hold on to places and things so dearly while others can just easily sell a property and move on, actually not bothered? My great grandparents built a dairy farm with their bare hands before WWI in a little town in Idaho – every board, nail, and creak in the floor as you say, was part of their place. Although it was built with blood, sweat, and tears they sold the massive property and scaled down when they retired and grandpa died, moving into a cute little cottage with a garden. I like how my yoga teacher once described it – home is scaled infinitely into part of you, all the places that give us some level of comfort and good memories. I see food is also part of your sense of home. Yeah, it definitely is a huge part, isn’t it!?

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  2. Yes, food is definitely up there, Erica! Love the image of your great grandparents in Idaho. It reminds me of a book I read. Will hunt out the title.

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