Becky and I arrived ‘home’ on Sunday night after being away for five weeks. I think I should have felt some relief, or some pleasure being among my belongings again, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel anything. This house doesn’t feel like home. So I asked myself, ‘what does home feel like’?
I have spent two thirds of my life as a bit of a wandering gypsy. I have moved seventeen times and lived in eighteen places, soon to be nineteen.
My first home was a post- war brick house, with a coal fire, an outside toilet, and creaky floors. The garden was long and thin, and as a kid, I could barrel up and down it to my hearts content. My Uncle Maurice had built us a brick storage space in the yard, for coal. I used to lie on top of it, in good weather, and day-dream. When we had to leave there when I was fourteen, I was very excited about it: however, I found myself dreaming about the house, and genuinely grieving, for years.
So, was it the memories, maybe, that made a home. No, I have really good memories from lots of places I lived. Was it the comforts? No, that house could not be considered comfortable by today’s standards, or yesterday’s come to think of it. Was it the people? No, I have lived with very caring and loving people, and still do. So what was it?
In my struggling brain, I think I finally hit on it. It isn’t anything that can be photographed or touched or measured; it simply is a feeling of relaxation. When you come home, you can be yourself, put your feet up, feel safe, relax. In my house, I don’t get to relax, ever. Even while I’m writing my blogs, I’m having a conversation with Becky, cooking dinner, or answering the phone. There is no privacy; we have attendants coming and going, support workers, and some days the phone never stops. I can’t sit around in pajamas, or lie in bed on the weekend, and organizing social events is difficult because of the revolving door of staff.
Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not a complaint. I would be a shriveled rag without them, but it means that our house becomes a place of work. It’s like living in an office; it is public, busy, and not relaxing. Perhaps you have chaotic homes too, but it likely comes from within your family, not from strangers who walk in and out willy nilly. Yes, the workers have schedules, but frankly, if it doesn’t suit them, they come when they feel like it.
So where does that leave me? It means I am not tied down. I am willing to move at the drop of a hat, and apparently have done so on many occasions. It also means I can’t put down roots. I like places, but I don’t, ‘just, simply love them’. My Mom said I had ‘itchy feet’ because of my wanderings; that I was searching for something. I guess what this all means, is that I’m still looking.