Why I live where I live - Sunday Scribblings.
I live in an ordinary house, semi-detached, garden front and back, in a circle of houses on the outskirts of town. It has a picket fence (in need of repair) at the front, and wire fencing interspersed with mixed shrubbery at the back, to keep the dog on our side of the fence at all times. She’s not fierce. She’s little, and needs to be kept safe from traffic. My house has three bedrooms, a big enough square kitchen, that faces north and needs lighting most of the day, but still manages to be cheerful, a pleasant living-room, and a room with the grand title of Study, which means it’s where my books, computer, “stuff”, all live. Three walls of bookcases, spaces stuffed with files, notebooks, cups of pens, little drawers with crayons, markers, pencils. A hidden stash of paints and papers for “when I get back to the painting”.
I found the house. Eleven years ago. We’d moved to this town to facilitate my husband’s move to a new job. My son and I did all the initial searching, and this house – we fell in love at first sight. I don’t think my (then 9-year-old) son realised it didn’t come with the baby that was in the living-room when we came to view. I overlooked the lack of sun in the kitchen, because out back, looking at it on a sunny July day, there was my haven – a sunken, paved patio area, that I could just envisage packed with pots of colour and above that, the lawn surrounded by a rough stone wall. The garden sold the house to me. It took a few weeks and a few visits to sell it to my husband, and another few months for the purchase to be completed. We moved in on my 38th birthday. Felt even then like it was my birthday gift.
It’s my house now. My husband moved out three years ago. That is a whole other story. My son went off to college two years ago. Now there’s me and the dog. We have our routines. She knows when I take off slippers and put on shoes, I’ll be going out soon, and she slinks into her little bed, where she’ll stay until I come home again.
Why do I still live where I live? Because it’s my space. Because the shape of me is in the chairs and the bed, because I know where my books are, and my black jumper. Because I know what that green shoot is that I see in March, and the one that turns up in August, because I know that the genista will be flaring gold on the slope of the garden any day now, any day. I know the chaffinch with the deformed claw that comes to my back-garden feeder, and the pair of collared doves that arrive in morning’s cool air. I know the frog I disturb when I’m weeding, and the hedgehog that appears on summer nights to help out with the slug problem among my hostas. And I live here because it holds memories. I live here because we lived here, and I cannot contemplate yet, just yet, living anywhere that I can’t say that about. I live here because this is home.
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