When I thought about writing this post, my intention was to bleat on about how displaced my life is at the moment, how I don’t currently have a permanent ‘home’ and haven’t for the past 20 months, how I was wrong about what I wrote in ‘Maybe Tomorrow I’ll Wanna Settle Down’ and how, goddammit, it looks like tomorrow has finally come.
But don’t panic, I’m not quite there yet. A couple of events happened last week which have scared me back to my previous stance and also alerted me to the absurdity of my ‘all or nothing’ approach, to the fact that the old cliché is in fact true – home is where the heart is, it’s just a matter of finding your heart.
Over the past 20 months I have had homes in places as exciting as Manhattan and Mexico but right now, I have two homes. A very nice sub-let, with a very nice friend, in a very nice part of London and a lovely room of my own in my dear Mama’s flat in the East End of Glasgow.
My ‘things’ however, are scattered – most of them in a storage unit in Frome and some in my sister’s house in Devon…these are ‘things’ which I carefully packaged up before leaving my previous home (a studio flat in Shepherd’s Bush), hopeful that the next time I needed them would be to decant them into my permanent home, wherever that may be. I visited the storage unit last weekend and discovered – aside from it all being a load of old tat – that I must have had delusions of grandeur while packing…there were boxes labelled ‘office’, ‘fancy dress room’ and ‘garden room’ (from a studio flat!) and enough books to start a mobile library…is it possible I imagined that after doing a spot of travelling for 7 months I would return home and move into Downton Abbey? Sadly, I think it is actually probable, such is the fine line between my fantasy world and my grip on reality.
Another slightly more practical part of me had hoped my ‘things’ would be shipped to New York and that is where I would now be making a home. I can’t begin to imagine what many New Yorkers (and of course the rest of the affected East Coast which barely gets a mention) are going through right now in the wake of Sandy and don’t even want to try. Still no power, still no running water, plenty of areas still flooded, the poor suffering way more than the rich…what makes any event of this nature just about bearable are the stories of selfless helpfulness, the strong protecting the weak, neighbours checking on each other, the volunteers and donations pouring into relief efforts, a refusal by many to be beaten by this. But still many have lost their homes, and when this stops being news, they will need help more than ever.
A few days before Sandy hit, one of my niece’s flat was gutted by fire. Her family home was also gutted by fire about 8 years ago. That’s two serious fires she has lived through in 21 years. Fortunately no-one was hurt in either, but again I can’t begin to imagine what she must be going through, how she is having to mourn the loss of her things, and her home. She’s being strong and philosophical about it all, but if you’re going to survive something like this, twice, what else can you do?
So, fire, flood, destruction can hit anyone at any time anywhere. Why, then, is it one of the basic human desires to have a home, to feel at home, to make a home. It would be so much easier if we were nomadic by nature, throwing off possessions easily, moving on without glancing back. But human beings don’t tend to do that…and I am finally ready to admit that I am human.
Until recently I really was against the idea of settling down but being transient has given me this new desire for permanence. I do wonder though, whether it is driven by the psychological (everyone else is doing it), biological (my ovaries want me to do it) or even the metaphysical (I need to do it to prove my existence)?! All I know for sure is my heart leaps when I think of any of my homes (London, Glasgow, New York, Mexico, Bath, Devon) and this is not because of the physical places so much as the the people who are there, the memories which have been made there – the things which make all these places home.
But maybe it’s time to finally gather up all of these parts of my heart and plant them in something more permanent and solid. And I don’t mean bricks and mortar but commitment and reality.
*head fuck alert*
Ok, I’ll think about this tomorrow. But in the meantime I am going to click my ruby slippers together three times (yes, I own some – who doesn’t?) and say, ‘there’s no place like home’, ‘there’s no place like home’, ‘there’s no place like home’ and just see what happens.