When my eldest sister left home she moved far ‘up north’ while her husband-to-be lived a little further south, and the family home remained in Somerset. Never quite knowing where the word ‘home’ related to she developed a system of ‘home’ being where she was living and working, ‘home, home’ being a sort of halfway house where she and her fiancé lived together, and ‘home, home, home’ being the family home that she grew up in. I have always remembered this and have often adopted a similar nomenclature throughout all our many moves around the world, with the village I grew up in always remaining ‘home, home’.
When my parents decided that the time had come to downsize and move to a more manageable house and garden a few years ago I was entirely supportive, and in fact grateful that they had made the decision themselves while they were physically and mentally able to cope well with a move, and that it hadn’t been forced upon them through ill-health. It was very much the right decision for them and they now have a lovely home just a couple of miles away, but it was this move that prompted me to beg them a) not to sell the barn together with the house and b) to sell it to us when they were ready to part with it.
At the time of our purchasing the barn there was very little prospect of our being able to convert it to a domestic dwelling, and since we were living overseas it did feel slightly irrational, but very important to me. When I evaluate our decision it is pretty clear that for me that despite, or perhaps because of, our nomadic lifestyle the pull of ‘home’ is very strong and I am so grateful that Mike not only understood and supported me, but that he has grown to love the barn as much as me.
As I started writing this post I remembered one of my very favourite childhood books, The Best Nest by PD Eastman, and it made me laugh out loud to realise that ‘home’ and making a home has been an enormous feature of my life from a very early age! As a child I always loved den building with furniture, washing line and sheets or blankets and this progressed to endless room rearranging and a little painting as a teenager (sorry about the black woodwork Mum!). Each and every time I moved room or flat as a student I would take great care in ensuring I had explored every option with regards to furniture placement – much to many a removal man’s frustration.
Our various international moves have involved much the same, but every move has become slightly more complicated as our family has grown and the lifestyles in other countries have required a different approach to making each house feel like home. I have always insisted on moving ‘lock, stock and barrel’ so that we could have our own things around us, and it is now giving me enormous pleasure to start thinking about which of our belongings (many collected en-route) will find a place in what is to be our ‘forever home’.