[DISCLAIMER: This post is inspired by last week's Sinful Sunday by Charlie Powell.]
As you'll know if you've been paying attention, I live with my parents in a house I've chosen to call SH. Like Charlie's parents, the move to SH is part of an effort to downsize on my parents' part. It also wasn't their intention to have me living here, nor Jilly, either; in fact, when they moved, we were living in a room in a shared house - which wasn't perfect, but more of an effort to be out of their way as they were getting prepared to decamp to SH.
I won't go so far as to claim that I'm unwanted at SH, but it's a small house and I do feel like I'm taking up a lot of space. In our previous house - three storeys including a loft conversion and a garden large enough to contain an entire magical world which I rescued from disaster on a regular basis - I had a lot more free rein: space to walk around in when I wanted including two lounges, a room which doubled as a B&B-for-visitng-bloggers and a rehearsal space for the occasional musician, and a much larger, lighter and brighter bedroom. For the last couple of months, I wasn't too pleased with the environment (it seemed too dull for me, but then it was a very dark winter), but I visited it a few times while ostensibly living in the shared house, and - even though my parents had shifted things around by then - it was still remarkable how much I felt like I was coming home.
A memorable moment happened after camp one year. I came home in ragged clothes, caked with mud and dried rain and things I don't even want to imagine; I was soaked through due to the rain and I walked, not immediately back to my shared house, but to my parents'; I needed to unload and I knew there were some spare clothes of mine in a wardrobe upstairs. I walked straight into the house, and upon ascertaining that neither parent was there, stripped completely naked in the kitchen, bundled everything in my bag (along with the clothes I had been wearing) into the washing machine, which I then snapped on, and then walked - naked - around every room in the house, eventually heading upstairs to root around in the wardrobe for replacement clothes (there was, as it turned out, one of everything: pants, socks, trousers and a T-shirt). I didn't once feel inhibited or indecent: this was the place I had grown up in. I was allowed to be naked.
This was the house which contained the room I had in my teenage years where I played, first with my toys and then with myself. Where I had my dirty flirty conversations and began to discover my sexual self. It also had the room where I came back to after university, watching porn on my laptop balanced on the end of my bed and/or on the desk I had. That was the room where I started writing ILB; it was where I took TD and Catherine and Jilly; it was where I pulled geeky stuff out of the cupboard to show Blacksilk and Crush. I remember the view from the window and the softness of the bed and the low purr from Willow as she napped at the end.
And my SNES. That was good too.
Even though I'm living at SH now, and that is perfectly adequate, I still don't feel like I'm home. It still feels new to me, it still feels a little alien, and I think that this is because, unlike Charlie, I don't have the luxury of being able to call somewhere else home.
I can't afford a cupboard, never mind a room or even a flat. I'd like to have somewhere - anywhere - to retreat and be safe, but circumstances themselves dictate otherwise. I hear my sister (who lives in a flat in Hackney) had trouble paying the rent recently, but she managed to take the step outside, and not be forced back by debt and stress. Fate doesn't afford me that luxury, of being able to make it despite being back in employment now, and I still fail to see how this will ever realistically happen, since every time I make it at least somewhere, something drags me back down again.
But wherever I go from here, I still don't really feel like I'm home. Because I'll only ever really consider one place home... and I haven't lived there for years now. And I still miss it... terribly.