There's more than bricks and mortar

I'm back from China, and normal service should resume soon. So I figured that it was the right time to share with you all the piece I wrote for Idle magazine. Ironically, it does talk a bit about our house, or soon to be not our house, and people close you. Funny how things turn out eh? The final few issues are still available

Illustration (which accompanied the article when published) by Krysthopher Woods.

Some guy, possibly old and possibly also famous, once said that Home is where the heart is.

It occurred to me recently that my current abode, for want of better word, has been the longest place I have ever lived. Even childhood homes were more fleeting than the flat I currently live in. I’m loathe to call it home – I spend too much effort constantly making it feel like it is home for it to honestly be so.  Nearly a decade in the place and still it’s not quite as comfortable to me as places I spent much less time in as a child. It’s no terraced house which is the first I remember with a garden that blended into everyone elses, and the streets we raced barefoot in. It’s definitely nothing close to Grandma’s house by the sea, where she lived as long as time itself and where we would spend days racing around like wild beings. We became part of the landscape there, or at the very least came home covered in it.

What it is, and what it has become to me and others, is a constant. It’s a place that everyone has come, at one time or another, for tea and sympathy. Love, life, health, death, you name it our little house has seen it. Or rather we have seen it.

My generation, our generation, is slowly becoming a transient one. We rent, we stay sleeping in one place for a while and move up – be it due to landlords or work or, if we are lucky, up the next rung of the property ladder. I find home, more than ever, is a quality invested in people rather than possessions.  The one thing that makes the place I sleep my home is the photographs. I have wedding photos and family photos, but also ones of friends and times that are seemingly mundane, but are the moments that cement the relationships that make this place home.

I’ve personally suffered with anxiety issues for a long time. My doctor terms it “inability to feel safe or secure” in whatever environment it is that makes me nervous. The thing, that for me at least, makes it easier, is friends. Family is family – mine at large is fairly dysfunctional – but friends are the people who choose to make themselves part of you. They are the people who are there with no motivation, no familial obligation, only because they care. They are there, spending time with you, on you, simply because to them you mean something, you are worth that effort. That, to me, is what home is.

Whenever I am on holiday, wherever we’re sleeping is referred to at home. It’s a convenient turn of phrase, because home traditionally means a place. Home is the bricks and mortar we live in, quite possibly were born in, or at the very least some generation of our family was raised in. The way we live now however, makes that an improbable ideal. Community as our grandparents knew it is more and more alien. Today the internet makes your community the people you chose wherever in the world you are, not just the people nearby.

In my life it’s my husband’s cousins and their partners in Canada, so freakishly similar to my husband and I that it is almost surreal. It’s the friend who is always there are a sounding board for our fertility issues, as we are there for his with his gender identity. It’s the friend who is rarely seen but always at the end of the phone (or facebook messenger) to answer the call of “I need to talk”. These people are my home. The place my heart is, where I feel safe and secure. Forget bricks and mortar, my home is in the people who are part of my heart. 

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