Home Sweet Home

And we’re back in three… two… one…

Whew! That was the weekend that was. It’s all fine, of course: my dad is both very well and now has the Son tucked neatly under one arm. I saw them off to the railway station yesterday, but didn’t wave goodbye. The Son is fourteen, after all. He neither wants nor needs a mother with a wobbling lower lip. And I –did- have a wobbling lower lip. I’m used to the Son being away from home, but there’s something about packing him off on a train that induces the clinging mother in me.

It’s daft. I mean, I’ll be seeing him a week Saturday anyway. Anyway, stiff upper lift, what-what.

So I had a day or two off the computer and it was hard going. My internet connection is effectively my social life. Neither me nor Himself are big socialites, so we don’t go out to the pub or things of that ilk. All our friends are mostly in different parts of the country, so we don’t have a circle of mates we meet up with regularly. Himself works pretty much every weekend.

Sometimes, this gets painfully lonely but there’s not a great deal to be done about it. I can’t suddenly change my personality and become Little Miss Gregarious. This year’s been better; I promised myself that I’d not rob myself of chances to spend weekends with friends just because Himself was at work. As such, I’ve been away a few times by myself.

Here’s some random numbers: I’ve been in the North East for twenty years come November. In that time, I’ve had two boyfriends (one local, one in London – the one time I almost escaped the North East), two husbands, one son, lived in seven houses and had five jobs.

This is scary: I’ve had ten cars in that time. That’s averaging a different car every two years which is somewhat startling. Two of those cars were written off (not my fault in either case) and one had to be swapped out due to Hassle From An Ex (a method of disguising myself so he didn’t spot me in town).

I’ve been to approximately forty LARP events in that time, seen my first cat through to her sad demise and acquired two more. The household has seen one Syrian and two Russian dwarf hamsters come and go. I’ve had two books published in English (both now also translated into French and one into German) and several short stories.

Numbers, numbers, numbers.

In twenty years, I’ve got up to an inordinate amount of stuff. I’ve lived in the North East longer now than I lived down south. But it’s still not ‘home’. I’m not entirely sure it will ever be ‘home’.

Several people have said ‘well, why don’t you move?’ Have you seen the disparity in house prices between the north and the south? I couldn’t afford a one bedroom flat in the village I grew up in even if I sold my house for the price I paid for it. The chances of being able to move back down to Sussex are somewhere between slim and non-existent. This makes me sad, because I’m definitely a Sussex girl at heart. I miss the South Downs. I miss Brighton. I watch Choccywoccydoodah not just for the awesome cakes and displays, but for the regular shots of Brighton sea front. Used to go there a lot on Sunday afternoons. We’d wander up and down the Palace Pier. I spent a small fortune on the ‘Outrun’ machine. ‘Magical Sound Shower’ is the soundtrack to my youth.

Of course, the weirdest thing of all is that when I was growing up in my little West Sussex ‘village’ (I use the inverted commas because the ‘village’ is now roughly the size of a small town and still growing), I couldn’t wait to get out of it. Now I wish I had never left.

Yes, yes, I know. If I’d never left, I’d never have had the wealth of experiences that I have under my belt. Maybe I’d never have discovered what it’s like to try to pull off the M42 during rush hour with my dashboard on fire[1]. Maybe I’d never have found out what it means to go on holiday to some of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. Maybe I’d never have met some of the most extraordinary people it’s been my pleasure to have got to know.

Regrets, huh? I’ve had a few and all that.

So the Son is spending two weeks in my home village-town. It didn’t take much for me to say ‘I’ll drive down to pick him up again!’ I’m looking forward to the visit. I’ll walk past the new village centre car park complaining about how it ‘was all a big patch of grass where I learned to ride my bike’. I’ll glance over the road from the allotments to my grandparent’s house and lament all the work that’s been done to it. I’ll walk through the allotments and remember the joy of my granddad scraping dirt off a carrot and rinsing it in the water butt before we ate it straight out the ground.

So many memories. And they are so much better than regrets.

[1] This is actually true. This happened.[2]
[2] In fact, most of my bizarre experiences have involved cars. [3]
[3] Ranging from dashboards being on fire and getting stuck on hay bales to being rear-ended by a man whose bumper promptly fell off.

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