I'm writing this from my mum's netbook (I originally wanted to try her iPad, but I've no idea how to clear internet history on Safari), rested on a huge green writing-rest, on a large oak table. As I look out of the window, I can see an endless expanse of green; I need to walk for about five minutes to get from here to my room. The house, of course, is big - very big. Much bigger than you'd think, upon seeing it from the outside.
Less than a week after moving house and I've already abandoned it, taking my customary place as one on a family holiday.
Last time I came here, I was in an intensely transitional state. I'd sort-of-but-not-yet-really started a relationship with Catherine. I didn't have a job or, really, many prospects for one in the future. After several traumatic family holidays in my mid-to-late teens, I wasn't really ready for another one, not even at 27, that lasted a whole week. I got through it, all the tears and the drama (plus the good times - there were some), through a daily ritual of masturbating the pain out and cathartic blogging. And Twitter, which helped.
That was 2011.
Four years later and this house is exactly as I remember it. Impossible to fathom in its complexity, being possessed of rooms in varying size but still cavernous enough to warrant a humming of the Luigi's Mansion music at night (I was the last person up last night). But my family has changed since - there's one new addition on my auntie's side of the family (they are all here too), my cousin with the huge boobs appears to have grown even bigger boobs since I last saw her, and I have two heavily pregnant relatives as well - both due on the same week, exactly the same week as Lovely and my friend-who-is-a-midwife (count 'em - four in one week!). Those who used to be young are now older and slightly less chaotic.
In many ways, this time everyone else is going through a transitional phase. I'm not - I'm a lot more secure in who I am and where I belong, and crucially, I'm only here for the weekend.
I still want to travel, though. I mean, I can't afford to do anything drastic, but I've done my fair amount of jetsetting this summer (like I did in 2011) and all the travelling that goes with it, and I've had moments where I miss the whole "being on the move" thing. Occasionally a song comes up on my iPod and it makes me think about those moments when, 18 years ago, I would spend my Friday nights on a bus listening to Gold Mother with the promise of sex at the end of my journey. I later did the same thing with travelling to Harrow, Croydon, Newport, Oxford, Leeds and Chelmsford (Africa doesn't count) and, each time, I loved the feeling of moving a long distance at great speed with relatively minimal effort on my part. Coupled with the anticipation and excitement (and Gold Mother) at what was to come, the travelling enthralled me. It was an escape.
And this is what this weekend, this family holiday, is. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere (read: Sussex) where I can sit on my own and read sci-fi novels, drink coffee and decompress. Where I can listen to music and play the piano if I want to, chat to my geeky cousin(s), but just take myself aside for a while and listen to the silence.
To decompress, avoid anything that I don't wish to see or do. To give myself free rein and relax within it.
And wank. Because I've been doing that too.