Home is not a place. It’s a feeling.
A white light flashed on my phone. In my eagerness to hear from a particular someone I picked it up to read the text. The disappointment was crashing; the message wasn’t from the long-awaited contact, but a friend telling me she won’t be in work today. Rather than continue thrashing about within the sheets I got up creaking myself awake as the pre-alarm day dawned.
In my new place a silhouetted row of terraced houses faces my bedroom window, they slowly flicker to light, small orange rectangles floating in the gloom. In the dying days of my married life, I would cycle the streets of my town at twilight, irresistibly drawn to the pinpricks of white light hanging from bay windows and the glow emanating from living rooms. I felt adrift, detached from my own home and longing for the cosy warmth of other people’s houses.
Now, in my new pared-down and post-relationship life, it is other people who come into the warmth of my home, my heart has found some degree of peace within its silent walls. I see the orange windows of other homes and feel that I am now part of that illuminating flicker. I have found a new place to call home, I am safe within its cocooned walls, no longer looking outward, but inward, my new space quelling the turmoil.
There’s an adage that what you have now is what you once wished for, and that’s true of this house. When I wanted to get away from the suffocating sadness of marriage within the four walls of a house I’d spent 20 years living in, I’d visit the tenant of this house to talk about when she would move out and I would move in. When I’d reclaim the space I owned, but she rented. I’d dream about the day when I could walk through this front door, and close it quietly behind me and create a new world and a new life. I worried. Would my son like living here? Would he find this house, which needed so much work doing to it, a home? My fears were unfounded. He found a sense of freedom and adventure in living here with me. In the early days when we had little materially but had each other and he seemed to revel in the abandonment of the rules I’d had to live with within my married life, but now lay by the side of the road, left in the dust as we took a new path, a new journey. We explored our new neighbourhood together, made new rituals and routines and got used to our new life as a two, rather than a three. I learned a lot about parental love in those early days. He didn’t care where he lived as long as he was with me and I realised that my love for him could survive the times when we weren’t together. Myself and our new home would welcome him back into a loving embrace each time he’d been to his other life, his other home. And ultimately I’d learn to deal with the void left by his absence. He always comes home. Home isn’t a place, it’s feeling. It’s love.