Home. It’s a strange concept. This one town where I was raised my entire life, where every single member of my family live (honestly, every one), where I fell in love for the first time. But also where I will endeavour never to return to, for as long as I can help it. Unfortunately, I’ve only lived in other cities for 4 years of my life, which is less than a quarter, and those 4 years are split between 3 different cities, which means I can’t really be allowed to call any of them my home either. So I’m stuck with these roots and these memories of a seaside town on the south coast of England for a while yet.
This past fortnight I’ve been home, to look after the family dog whilst my parents are on holiday. I leave the day after tomorrow and I’ve absolutely squandered my time here, just sitting inside and watching films all day, something which is so uncharacteristic of me (I usually hate films, not having the attention span to just sit and watch longer than 45 minutes). I’ve spent the past month in Cardiff missing the sea, yearning for the beaches of this town and yet I haven’t visited them once. Nor have I been to the Sea Life Centre on the pier, or the New Forest. Nor have I met up with anybody other than my grandmother. It’s been a strange 2 weeks, that’s for sure.
I thought that when I left this town, two months ago, that I could sever ties with it just by crossing over county and country borders. Like an elastic band stretched too tight, I would snap the connection. Whilst I was away, I thought I had. But last night I sat in my old bedroom for 5 minutes and the strangest feeling came over me. It was like I could feel all the roots that this room and this house had put down in my mind – I could feel that every single particle of me was somehow tied up inside this room, this house, this town. I have memories of being 11 years old and waiting until I had gone to bed to put my Dookie Green Day CD in my walkman, which was a copy from the cool girl at school, as I wasn’t allowed to buy or listen to Green Day yet. I remember coming back from the palliative care unit, aged 21, where my grandfather had just died and staying up until 4am reading The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks. I can remember countless phone (and Skype) calls from boyfriends and friends, and always trying to keep my voice down as I was always told I was far too loud. So much of my life was played out between these four walls. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Tomorrow I’m meeting up with an old friend from this town. The only one I have. He went to the same school as me and we briefly dated more than a decade ago. These days he usually lives in Greece, after a mental breakdown that I never ask about too much. But we’re both back here for the same week, coincidences be damned. When I lived here, we used to meet every week, usually in my favourite coffee shop, the one where I wrote all my blog posts, the one where I’m writing these words right now. It seems like a message from the universe that no matter what I do, this me will still be here and this version of me never dies.
Perhaps I should find that a comforting thought, but I don’t.