Thoughts of home… by an outsider

Thoughts of home have been on my mind intermittently over the last few months – for a variety of reasons. This week I read a blog post (can’t find the link – I’m sorry) of a woman who has just bought her childhood home from her mum and will be moving there with her family. Her children will ride their bikes on the same grass as she did, go to the same schools that she did and she was concerned about it being a step backwards for her.

I’ll be returning to my childhood home in a few weeks and I have very little sentiment about it. For one thing these days it doesn’t feel like the same house – due to remodelling, redecoration and an influx of cats it’s difficult to a) know where anything is anymore and b) feel relaxed without having something I’m allergic to walk about and cover everything in hairs.

What are my memories of the house? Well, I will forever be good at running up and down rickety steep stairs thanks to growing up here – not a great skill but handy once in a while. The upstairs lends itself naturally to terrifying someone whose imagination conjured up a bogeyman who could grab you from dark corners on the way to bed – each night I had to run a gauntlet past doorways and recesses where he lurked in order to get to my bedroom.

Would I see it as a step backwards if I moved back to the area? Yes, I think so. I know my sister would like it if I was closer to her (and I guess my mum would too) but there’s not much else there for me apart from them. But I don’t know that I regard Nottingham as home either. My house is my home and I’m always happy to be here, and with Simon. But as a city I don’t feel a particular loyalty to it although there are many aspects of it that I really appreciate about living here – the size, the range of things to do – music gigs, cinema, restaurants and so on. I am assimilating, in some ways. After 10 years of being here my accent is changing – albeit inconsistently. So now I am regarded as “northern” by my family and “southern” by work colleagues and friends up here.

I think people’s concepts of what constitutes home vary – for many it is where your loved ones are. But my loved ones are scattered far and wide. If asked to define home I don’t know what I’d say apart from describing my house – somewhere where I can leave my knitting strewn about and relax in a dirty jumper and bare feet. So in a Doctor Who kind of world I could up my house and shift it anywhere and still be home – providing that somewhere was a city and not the countryside, of course. In the meantime I get to watch people and feel like my observations are more natural because I’m not one of them.

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