Sometimes the only way you know you’re home is when you return. Sometimes you don’t even know that you have returned and found home in something you didn’t know you wanted in the first place. (Too cryptic? Try me after my next coffee). Sometimes your whole being throws out little anchors you didn’t realise were holding you safely in place until you try to tear away from them.
I’ve always loved moving around, perhaps because we never did as children, so I still love discovering new places. A particular joy of such a big move up to Cheshire is the constant discovery of new roads, new places, new people. It is a buzz. I knew I liked it up here; we’re enjoying ourselves, the slower lifestyle, the new friends and so on. I didn’t know how much till we left.
This sounds terribly melodramatic, so let me clarify. We merely went down to London for 48 hours to see my sister and for MCD to go on some almighty marathon piss-up with his friends under the guide of ‘sorting out a stag do.’ We drove to Bromley via the sat nav’s weirdly circuitous route of the Olympic site (big thrills for MCD there) and, as we drove through E London, as the buildings drew ever inwards, as the skyline grew greyer and contracted to glimpses of blue, I felt my innermost being contract as well. Something inside huddled a bit closer. The traffic got a bit more impatient and aggressive, the high streets looked surly – it all looked, well, unfriendly.
We had a fine weekend. Despite MCD Jr deciding to push his canines through and consequently spending much of it streaming from every orifice and wailing hysterically, it was a good weekend. I saw two of my best friends, I hung out and drank Champagne with my sister, we went to Chapter One where they thought MCD Jr a riot, fed him fishcake and he helped himself to vast quantities of rhubarb sorbet and crème brulée. It was fun.
But. And here’s the thing. As we turned on to the A500 off the M6, a mere 25 minutes from home, I felt my entire soul lift. I felt myself breathe in again; as if all weekend I had been holding my breath in tension. It was a feeling of home, of belonging, of right-ness. ‘This is where we should be, we are fools ever to leave it’, were my persistent thoughts as we came through the final leg and passed the Snugbury’s bear. I felt like I was coming back to my husband after being away, that same sense of slight desperation and excitement to see each other again. Is this love, I wondered?
It is a similar feeling to coming home to my parents’. I still refer to it as ‘home’ which still irritates MCD. ‘We have a home’ he insists, and he’s right, but in my head I had two homes: one where my parents are, and one where we are right now. I suspect it’s not that unusual. But now we are here in Tarporley, and even though we rent, the word ‘home’ has taken on a deeper resonance; as if I have indeed come home. I feel the same sense of security, of familiarity, of contentment as in my childhood. That makes it more ‘home’ than any place we lived in – and loved living in – in London.
Home is where friends and family are. That is a fundamental truth and not one I shall strive to overturn. However, I would like to make a plaintive plea for Place. Sometimes it’s not where your family is, or where you hang out with your mates, or where you grew up; sometimes it’s just a place that evokes all of those feelings in you, that conjures up that same sense of comfort and holds you tight when you leave.