'Home is where the heart is'
'Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home'
What does home mean to me? What do I think of when I hear the word 'home'?
My childhood home was a Victorian terrace in Birmingham, spread over three floors with a beautiful mosaic floor in the hall and a huge conker tree at the bottom of the garden. All my happy childhood memories have that house as a setting - birthday parties, playing with friends in the garden, having a large play room full of books and dolls, learning to cook in the tiny back kitchen. Memories of my parents - Mum cooking or sewing, Dad's decorating, having to light the fire before you went into the middle room to watch TV; memories of my sister - squabbling over space in the play room, being banned from each others bedrooms; memories of our lodgers - the nurses in the attic, the young Polish couple whose baby never seemed to stop crying, the salesman who had stinky kippers for breakfast.
My first home away from home was when I went to Weymouth to study. I lived in a couple of college rooms which became my home. I got to choose what the room looked like - posters on the wall, tea making facilities, plenty of books on the shelves. I got to decide what went on in the room - lots of tea drinking with mates, lots of music and laughter, smoking, drinking and crying over blokes. I felt so grown up in those rooms - looking back I'm not sure I really was grown up but it was the start of a journey to maturity that I think in some ways I'm still on. The four years I spent there were really happy, I met some awesome people and had the best of times.
We've had a few homes since we married but have spent the most time living in the house we currently occupy. It took me a while to warm to the move south. I was a Brummie born and bred, even though my Mother's family came from Oxfordshire - I spent many happy hours visiting my family here and summer always seemed hotter and sunnier when we visited Grandma! But slowly I've grown to consider Oxfordshire as home and I'm very content here now. Content is an odd world to use in the context of home but I think it's an underestimated state of being. I don't think I could stand the pressure of being happy all the time and contentment is a much easier, calmer frame of mind anyway. I like our little market town, even if the range of shops is dire; I love being only a bus ride away from Oxford, I always feel more intelligent when I walk round there; I love that I can stroll along the river bank any time I fancy; I love the slower pace of life I have adopted here (big cities fill me with dread these days)
So is home a place? Or is it the people? For me home is a series of memories connecting those I love with me, somewhere I feel safe and protected, it's wrapped up in a building but is easily transported.