As I enjoy my holiday, I am circling back to the same question in my writing: how do we feel a sense of home?
I have been thinking about what is home, how to make a home this week. Reviewing my Morning Pages (which no-one else is allowed to do; it’s like an episode of Mortified) I notice that home is a great pre-occupation of my thoughts. As I write the pages I am distracted by what I see, what I think I should be doing this comes down to housework and wanting new furniture. Since putting routines in place to clean my house more, I suppose you could say I am more house proud. But really what I am craving is a calm environment.
We have come on holiday to a lovely cottage in Devon. We have been to the site before and I love that sense of knowing where you are. I don’t remember all the things we did before as it is four years ago (it seems I can’t remember anything without a photo now.) We drove through the main town nearby yesterday and I barely recall it all. However, here on the site there is a gentle familiarity. The déjà vu of enjoying the same views before. There is a comfort in that.
When I was sitting last night enjoying the sweeping hills, I thought about what I would replicate at home. The sofas are smaller so I have to sit next to my husband, the TV service is basic so we are forced to play a game or talk. It is small (and we live in a small house) but then we also close and snug. Being a British Summer holiday, we have already had lots of rain but I have enjoyed listening to the rain, watching it through the skylight. We have also been able to get outside for a longer time each day. Bonus, it has somewhat improved my son’s sleep, and this helps my sleep as well of course. None of these changes I have identified are impossible to replicate at home. I find myself craving the silence of it all.
Holiday is just taking time for simpler pleasures.
At the centre of the novel I am writing is a character trying to move away from home. She has escaped obligations of family life but life, of course, comes knocking. This week though I have been writing another short story related to someone who is obliged to stay near their family and the feelings of duty come up again. I have been wondering why I circle around this idea again and again.
It is interesting to me that these are preoccupations of my writing. Maybe children of divorce feel a greater sense of questioning about home? Although that’s really unfair because I had already moved out and got married when my parents divorced. Maybe also moving away from the area where I grew up and trying to make a life in the often unforgiving outskirts of London means I worry about my sense of place. In a city where everyone belongs, should I feel so little sense of community? I am also thinking about where home really is, is it in my hometown with my school friends, is it snuggled up in our little family? Is it grabbing coffee from the cafe across the road? It is odd to me that I even question it when I have lived around the same area for ten years now. The answer of course is it is all these places.
I know it is a cliché to say that “home is where the heart is” but I think you do start to understand that as you get older. It can feel like a number of places of course, but mainly it feels like the place that you make to feel like home. With each act of love, tidying, cooking, for me that is bringing in a sense of home to a place. So even here, on holiday, for this week I have been roughly following my routines. Throwing open the windows and enjoying the sense of it all. For this week at least it feels like ours. We are so lucky.