I have lived in the same house my entire life. I remember when we were younger and my parents were considering moving and I couldn't bear the thought of not having my home anymore. Every new house that we looked at I turned my nose up at. I tried to imagine myself in a new room, but the thought only made me sad and nostalgic and scared.
Eventually we decided to reinvent our original home instead. That meant gutting the whole thing and moving to a rented place in the next town for 6 months. I remember this being very confusing. Suddenly I wasn't sure where home was. I knew that this place was only temporary and so I was able to cope with the being away from the real house for a while. But then, obviously, the real house completely changed its image and its smell and even its back garden. And then I got used to living in our rented place, I'd had one long lovely summer in it, and I felt suspended in the air without anywhere to feel completely safe, completely at home.
I used to believe that the only place I could ever cope with being ill was at home. Anywhere else and I would panic and desperately try to imagine myself in my bed with everything I knew around me. My home was everything. My room had my whole life in it, and I could run across the landing to the safety of my parents' room whenever I needed. Of course I could have these luxuries in any other house, but I could only ever imagine this feeling of security where I'd always been.
When I was younger I used to worry that I could never move out because no other place would feel the same. I'd try to imagine myself as an adult in lots of different, new houses but found myself always wondering back to home. Nothing could compare.
When we moved back into the new old house I had to get used to everything I knew never being able to be the same again. Except it wasn't as traumatic as I'd anticipated. It was still in the same spot with the same views and the same people and the same meaning. It just looked different. And smelt of new paint for a while. Quickly this new old house became the place that I couldn't really cope with being anywhere else.
Weirdly even today I still have dreams in which I live in the old house. I can still walk around my old room, and go down the tiny kitchen and have the tiny bathroom right next to my door. The whole place is very vivid. Clearly that house had a very powerful effect on my memory. I wonder how long I'll be having those dreams for.
Now I do not have one place that I feel completely safe in because I don't always live at home anymore. I have another room in another town that I surrounded with all my things and my memories and I can lie down in that bed and not have to imagine myself lying in the one I'm sitting on now. I think younger Mollie would struggle with that concept. I think she'd feel I'd betrayed the old house. I used to think that, that by moving away we would betray the old house.
I don't think that now, obviously it would be a bit weird if I did. But I'm strangely impressed with myself that I can call two places home. I used to worry about the life I live now so much, even when it was years and years away. And now this new place means almost as much to me at this moment in time as the old one does. And I have nothing to worry about, and that, for me, is the most glorious thing.