All these places feel like home
with a name I’ve never chosen
I can make my first steps
as a child of 25
-Snow Patrol, Chocolate
It’s funny how places become home. I’m moving back to London soon and tonight I’m thinking how much I’ll miss this room. On the one hand it’s a slow process, making a space yours. You move things around, move them around again, add things, subtract things, move them around again. For me it was a books thing- the more books I stacked my shelves with, the more I felt like this bedroom was mine. On the other hand, it happens quickly. You blink and where you live is where you really are.
I’ve only ever rented. It’s been seven years (!) and nine moves (!!) and I’ve lost stuff, collected stuff, given stuff away… I don’t know how it would feel were these things mine, if I had to store them and unpack them and hoist them into empty rooms. Start from scratch. I can’t quite imagine, even. All I know is how easy it is for “that” desk to become “my” desk, or “the” shelves to become “ours”. And how it feels to watch this room become less and less mine.
When I move I don’t tend to hold on to everything. When I left N, I started gradually “losing” my things. (Admittedly, this was also partly in case I died). Oxfam got a lot of books… Sainsburys’ charity bins took a lot of clothes… I watched “our” flat become less “mine” and I left a lot of things behind (I still regret the masala tin and the collected works of Elizabeth Bishop…)
I do tend to keep scraps of paper, half-arsed poems, brimming notebooks, study notes (in case I suddenly need them), articles from papers (in case I suddenly need to show someone, a year later). Last week I took a recycling bag and chucked a fair amount away. It was cathartic. Obviously, afterwards, I felt like diving in and retrieving bits and pieces… but I refrained.
Life’s too short for… [six copies of a poem by Braithwaite; a coffee stained booklet; two leaflets on cinema listings from December] …