A Decade On… Home

Over the next few months I’ll be adapting John Scalzi’s 20/20 blog series to talk about how life has changed over the last ten years, and maybe also how it’s stayed the same. Week three’s theme is ‘home’.

Not to go on and on about it, but… I’ve found one! 

I’ve never previously felt like I had a home. All the places I went back to at the end of the day were just categorised in my mind as ‘where I happen to be living at the moment’ or sometimes simply ‘where all my stuff is’.

Ten years ago, I was twenty and had been married for a year. We lived in a falling-down house in Oxfordshire. It had trees and barn owls in the overgrown back garden, and when we moved out we accidentally left the head of a deer in a box for the next person to find.

In February of 2008 we moved to a flat in the grounds of a hotel, also in Oxfordshire. Here we had our ‘official’ wedding (we got handfasted when I was nineteen, and legally married when I was twenty). At the wedding I wore a green dress with a black veil, and a dead crow on my head.

One day a few months later we went walking through the grounds and heard some strange noises. I didn’t say anything for a while because I wasn’t sure if it was in my head, but then my husband went, “Can you hear howling?” and then we heard what was unmistakably a lion’s roar, and then we stumbled across a small zoo. They had a lion, bears, wolves, zebras, an emu, penguins, donkeys, a bison, peacocks, and a camel who was very unimpressed by the snow.

The following year we moved to Brighton, where we stayed for a while, and then we moved to a flat in South-East London, and then we broke up. Immediately after the breakup I moved to Gipsy Hill, mainly because of the name but also because I’d found a flat I liked. I really did enjoy living there but it never quite felt like home, and I was trying to make rent by busking in the snow outside train stations, which is not a fun way to earn a living.

I left my job later that same year and moved out of London, to a flat in Brighton because it was the only real option, and about a year later I managed to find the flat I’m in now, in West London.

I moved in and the flat fell apart. Now almost five years on, it’s structurally OK again and gradually being renovated to my own tastes. When I was in the USA earlier this year I realised I was feeling homesick, and this wasn’t something I’d ever felt before, because I’d never really had a home. Now I do. It’s nice, I recommend it.

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