Home to me is a feeling, not a place. It’s the calm in a cluttered world. It’s when you are out on a long walk, when the wind is wild and your face is frozen – then you take a rest behind a dry-stone wall. You’re sheltered, there’s a dry spot to sit on and eating cheese sandwiches, hot coffee and a Kit Kat whilst looking out over the moors is everything you need. That’s home.
Home is paths you have trodden so many times that you don’t need to think about them. Your brain switches off and the rhythm of walking soothes you.
Home is sitting on your sofa with your partner, and being completely happy doing absolutely nothing – except occasionally bicker over whose turn it is to get up and get more snacks.
Home is when your child turns their face into your chest, closing their eyes and falling softly to sleep. You stare at their fine golden eyelashes as they quiver with each breath, hear them snuffle deep breaths, feel their whole body relax and melt into yours. That’s home.
I say its a feeling, not a place. But in turn there are two places that I’ve called home, and they are pretty bloody different. One is a small Yorkshire town, and the other is Manchester.
Growing up in Yorkshire, we tumbled out wild into the streets, playing, fighting, building dens and poaching fruit from neighbours gardens. Outdoors, always outdoors. Walking, always walking. Walking as a family on the moors, being taught the name of birds, plants, obscure castles, sheep. Walking through rain, snow, wind, fog.
Walking as a teenager, weaving down the middle of the road. Over fields for fun with friends, talking over everything, pacing out the words. Long walks when times were tough, not talking now but walking side by side, and then home for a brew.
Our home was small, but warm, dry, the kettle was always on and there was always someone round the kitchen table to talk to.
Then moving to Manchester as a student. My bedrooms were always small but the world, well the world was bloody massive.
I was outdoors again, all the time – running, exploring, dancing, talking. Meeting new people, doing new things, and beginning to know the city.
In my first year, skint and lonely in the summer when everyone else had left halls I took to wandering round the city centre. I might have had no money but I could try on hat after hat in department stores, look at the different buildings, walk up and down side streets. Making a coffee last two hours and watching the world go by.
Eight years on I work down the road from where I studied, and despite living in many a different house Manchester city centre now feels like home. There’s always something new happening, the sky filled with cranes, people constantly ebbing and flowing, the city is always changing.
And yet I find the peace of Yorkshire in the city centre. I think it’s because I can get lost in it all. I can get a coffee, and sit in a cafe window and watch the world go by. You are involved in everything, but not involved at all.
The city is an organism in itself, and the change keeps it interesting. We lived in the city centre for nearly three years, right next to Canal Street, above a pub and across the street from a massive busy nightclub. Hell for a country girl you might think.
But I loved it. I loved exploring, finding new pathways, new pockets of nature in the city sprawl. You never knew what you might find, tiny beautiful parks, old buildings, layers upon layers of posters and graffiti creating a beautiful grimy backdrop to it all.
I loved the city.
But its hella expensive, and as a couple we began to want things like A GARDEN and a GARAGE to store all of the crap you accumulate as you spend more years together.
So we moved back into the countryside. Up south of Manchester, almost on the Yorkshire boundary we rented a little house with a garage, a garden, friendly neighbours, the works. Yes it was the back end of nowhere, and the commute was hellish – but stepping off the train on an evening and walking through the village to our house was idyllic.
Just looking at the hills surrounding us, feeling the peaceful blanket of silence surrounding our snug little house – it felt like home.
What’s the point of his chat hey Becks, I hear you asking. Yada yada yada, we get it you like Yorkshire and you like Manchester.
Well the thing is, I’m struggling with finding my home at the moment.
We moved from the house in the hills when I was pregnant, moved into the suburbs. Better for commuting, family on hand for baby support , and y’know a big supermarket and a John Lewis on the doorstep. What more could a young family want?
Well despite having lived here for over a year now, I’ve struggled to find a routine, to become settled. I guess I was becoming more settled whilst I was on maternity leave, I grew to know the parks, the paths, the coffee shops around me – but it was never home.
If you’ve been following me from the start, you’ll know I started writing in order to find the ‘me’ again, and I think part of the reason I’m struggling is because I don’t feel like I am home.
There’s nothing raw and undiscovered about the suburbs. The most exciting thing to spring up on the streets is the bin-day obstacle course.
There’s a park next to us which has been my lifeline, and on maternity leave I paced it’s tight confines almost every day.But whereas in Yorkshire, and in the city you could head out in different directions and find multitudes of different things. Here it’s exactly the same – streets and streets of houses. Oh, and the motor way.
Turning my focus inwards to the house hasn’t helped that much either. We are working our way through a list of DIY’s to make our boxy rental more palatable, but for various reasons the house ain’t that hospitable at the moment either.
So I’m not really sure where to go from here. I’m struggling. I’m feeling homesick, feeling down and it impacts upon bloody everything. I hate that.
One thing I’m doing every day is to think of three things that day that I’ll sit down and take the time to really enjoy. That might be breakfast with my boys, setting up a play activity for R, coffee when I get into work – anything. I’ll carve out those little moments of peace for myself, and know that I’ve always got a snuggle with my boy at the end of the day. Now that’s home.