Homes and houses

Today is Saturday.

A planned No-Plans Day, where I intend to do as close to nothing as possible.

The ground is wet with morning dew and the air feels like snowman breath, but the places the light has touched are already drying, drips running down grass blades and being sucked into the earth.

It smells fresh, out there.

I still prefer it in here, in the spare room, with the heater humming beneath the desk, and the curtains closed. My little refuge at home.

As a child, I remember feeling anxious at my grandparents house, whenever someone would leave either of the doors open that led into the lounge room. I felt exposed by the open door, despite it only opening into the kitchen or the hallway.

Oddly enough, my own home was fully open-plan.

At the age of 10, with the birth of my brother, I moved into what was essentially the attic; a room within a room, it was a box suspended above the downstairs lounge room, and my bedroom balcony suspended over part of my sister’s bedroom.

My bedroom doesn’t have doors. It just has a steep staircase that leads up to the top of the house, where your head hits the roof – most of my friends have to hunch over to get into my room.

From there, you turn around and the roof slopes upwards as you approach the bedroom wall that faces the upstairs living room. That wall is only waist high. My bedroom being at the highest level of the house means that when you look into it from that upstairs living room, all you can see is a foot of the room – where the ceiling and back wall meet.

If, however, I go and stand against that wall that faces the upstairs living room, you can see everything from the waist up – which is why my bedroom has a balcony off it which overhangs part of my sister’s room, where I used to get dressed. That room also has a waist-high wall, and when my sister was being a jerk, I would occasionally throw deodorant cans at her while she was in bed.

Despite how open it was, I was never uncomfortable in that house.

Home really was my sanctuary, growing up. Very much the one place I felt safe enough to be myself, without fear of judgement or isolation. It was a warm place, filled with warm people.

… and when you leave it, as an intrepid, know-it-all 18 year old, you assume it is going to be your home, forever. That everywhere you live now that you’re on your own will always come second place to that house you grew up in, that house full of family.

And it does, while you’re away. While your voice is so far from theirs, coming through a telephone instead of being shouted from your balcony bedroom. Your new little apartment feels like the temporary place it is – you like it, but it’s just so.. foreign. You can’t wait to go home to visit.

It feels wonderful pulling back into that driveway, hearing the familiar creak of the doorknob as it turns, knowing which tile on which step is the one you need to avoid. Immediately, you are home.

But the next morning, you are helping your mother unpack the dishwasher, and each time you go to put a dish away, you discover something different in the cupboard.

“Oh, they’re kept over here now”, mum says.

Such a small, trivial, insignificant little thing; the place you put the saucepans.

And yet I remember the way that my world seemed to shake inside me, crumbling a little with the sudden and complete realisation that even this refuge changes, and nothing stays the same forever.

In that moment, home stopped being home, and instead became my family’s home. It is now collectively known as “mum and dad’s” because all three of us have flown the nest.

Now, when I visit, it feels like home again. Mum and Dad’s home. My old home. My anytime-I-need-them home.

Also, my place-where-I-will-always-find-food home.
Thanks for the leftover roast dinner I stole for lunch the other day, guys.

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6 thoughts on “Homes and houses

    • It really sucks to hear that. Does it make yoy work harder to try to establish one for your own family, someday?

      I’m very blessed to have had the upbringing I have had. I’m fully aware of the middle class privelege that gave me access to everything I need – now I just need to learn not to take all that for granted.

      • Yeah, you totally can.

        Home is the sum of the people in it. It’s not the bricks and mortar, the couches or bedrooms.

        If you’re open to sharing your life with a family, you can create everything I grew up with. It’s just about being there, together.

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