My brother’s bedroom was once used as an indoor garden. The previous owner of the house was called Mrs Jordan, my brother’s name is Jordan and so we saw this as a sign that the house was definitely ours. It was the smell I remember most. I was six and we moved in one Summer on a Friday night, just before the soaps started. The hallway was clad in mustard and the garden was a jungle. Our previous garden had been a small patch of concrete, this was much bigger and I remember the first time I ran through it and felt as if I had reached another world. There was an outside toilet which later became a part of the kitchen and a hole in the fence which soon became our way of interacting with the next door neighbours.
One of the first Winters we lived in the house our pipes froze. I remember my mum frantically running up and down the stairs looking out of the windows at the icicles which had formed whilst me and my brother complained about the cold. Vic was an elderly man who lived next door. He’d already been out and introduced himself to my mum, and that one particular morning he became a hero. Vic hung out of our bathroom window with a kettle full of boiling water and poured it over our pipes, a process which he repeated several times until we could feel our hands again. Vic saved the day and ‘Is Vic there?’ became one of my Dad’s regular phrases which he would repeat until you wanted to punch him in the face.
The summers were some of the best and I remember so vividly stealing my mum’s pegs and towels to create dens which had potential to appear on Grand Designs. The dens were created using some vintage brown and white sun loungers that had been left in the shed by the previous owners.
The summer evenings felt like days on end and it never seemed to get dark. Me and my brother once had our own café and would spend hours creating aesthetically pleasing dishes from mud, dock leaves and dandelions. Everything was served on a leaf plate and smelt like dog shit. We had water fights that started in the back garden and ended in the front and took the Barbie’s on Summer holidays were they stayed in apartments in the trees. The summers were some of the best and I remember so vividly stealing my mum’s pegs and towels to create dens which had potential to appear on Grand Designs. The dens were created using some vintage brown and white sun loungers that had been left in the shed by the previous owners.
My bedroom had once been fluorescent pink because at the age of 11 I’d branded myself a hippy.
My brother’s bedroom was ‘bogey green’ because of an obsession with Buzz Lightyear and I guess we had subconsciously attempted to out bright each other.
The bedroom’s function and purpose transitions with age. It had once been a school, an aeroplane, a hospital, a stage but as the years pass the bedroom becomes a capsule of the heart. My bedroom became my notebook for my mind and soon became a journal for the angst, the tears and the place where I became myself. I plastered my walls with the people that shaped me and at my time of teenage confusion the only people I felt understood me.
‘Is it weird to want to say goodbye to a house’ a question I asked pretty much asked every person I know.
This is a memoir, once again I kept notes in my phone, right from the moment the sale started going through. Initially I felt nothing, Mum and Dad had wanted to move for years but nothing ever materialised. I think it only hit me when I nearly didn’t get chance to say goodbye. Then it hit hard, mainly in the pit of my stomach and my heart ached. Finding out that your parents are selling your childhood home is up there with saying goodbye to the last year of your twenties. It’s just bricks, cement and walls, but fuck they’re hard to let go of.
Mum had always wanted a dog, we had always wanted a dog, however due to my Dad’s imaginary asthma and god knows what other illness he’d made up that week we never had one. We settled for guinea pigs and then stick insects which we forgot about, didn’t feed and walked into the shed to see that they’d started eating each other. When my Mum turned 30 my Dad finally caved and we adopted Oscar the greyhound. He became another wall, another arm that provided a hug after a shit day. Oscar awkwardly chose to sleep at the bottom of the stairs and all of us had tripped, fell and stumbled over him at least four times a week. He once ate a full block of cheese but was scared of going up the stairs. One weekend I came home, Oscar couldn’t stand up anymore and we said goodbye to him to the sound of Elton John’s ‘Are you ready for Love’.
I’m not even sure what it is that makes a place a home but I know that if I can create something even just close to how that house made me feel then I’m half way there. My mum and dad did an ace job of making somewhere that felt safe, warm and familiar, yet they probably weren’t even aware of it. A home is a familiar, a hug, a safety, a nest. I lived in houses/flats at university, I caked the walls in the things I had before, however how hard I tried I didn’t feel what I did when I walked through the door of 98 Littlecoates Road.