I’m starting to get the feeling like life is a journey on a cruel and uneven road. But it’s not quite a rollercoaster. Sorry, Ronan. The road has evened off after the bumpy track it was on. Then suddenly, the person you had hired your wagon from says they want it back much sooner than agreed. The clear stretch of road darkens into trees and you can’t see what’s ahead anymore. If you don’t find a new wagon soon you will have to ride the donkeys.
I had finally got settled in a new job, I was making savings, eating better and starting to look forward to things once more. Then I had to move house. Being uprooted isn’t fun, particularly when it’s not your choice and there isn’t much that can be done to help matters (other than putting on my big girl pants, stalking Rightmove updates and minimising my incidences of sobbing to a reasonable number). Having a home where I feel secure and comfortable is important and acts as a solid foundation for how I enjoy my day to day life. But increasingly the rental market prioritises the landlord’s needs and desires. It’s starting to seem as though to have stability, to put up a shelf, bed some plants or have a little cat is a luxury that most people can’t afford. The luxury of home ownership. This isn’t about how ‘millennials’ will never buy a house, my oldest friend bought a house as soon as she moved out, this is about how renting is a trap. A money pit. My friend who bought a house was able to do so in part thanks to savings from not renting. Not paying someone else’s mortgage. But again this isn’t the issue I want to air right now. Buying a house is difficult and fewer and fewer people are able to do so but having a home should not be difficult.
Having a place to call ‘your own’ (even if technically the property of someone else) I believe is a very deep rooted desire for humans and most animals. We nest, burrow and build in aid of providing shelter for ourselves and closest loved ones. Shelter is a basic need, but the sense of home, to me, is a very important basis for emotional fulfilment. It covers several points in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, plainly meeting physiological and safety but also psychological contentment. Homesickness, for example, isn’t just about the people or culture but also the physical place, the streets, the shops, your room and its unique smell you only notice when you are away for a while. You miss the place, which is made up of all these things including physical objects. Materialism is looked down on (it’s bad for the environment, it’s pretty shallow and capitalism is evil) but I like having my stuff in place that I get to feel like is mine and that I find agreeable. The view of the roses as I wash vegetables in the sink. The place for his computer and my Lego. The TV framed by our books, films and tokens. The flow of the space that our days together ran through. I didn’t want to lose.
Having to rebuild my sense of home somewhere different and just as I felt rooted, after an already trying year, has caused some degree of emotional unbalance. Distress sounds like an exaggeration, you know ‘Boo-hoo, I have to find a new house to live in, something very poor people don’t have the luxury to do’, so I will stick with unbalance. But there is the financial damage caused on top of this; I’ve had to cough up my savings that I wanted to use to have my first proper holiday abroad as an adult. Postponing such plans to pay for rental admin fees–paying money to pay someone to stay in a house they own. It’s like buying a ticket to a food festival then having to buy all your food as well. It is a loss of a few hundred pounds, that quite a lot of people today don’t have to spare. I know that for certain, if this were a few months earlier while working on a low hours minimum wage contract, having to suddenly move would have meant needing to borrow money or moving back to live with my family.
I should like to think that a good service is provided for this, the last estate agent did, but at present I live in a house that I had to clean when I moved in (after cleaning my old house), with a broken bathroom window, a leaky toilet and rickety floorboards that one night will give me a sprained ankle. I paid money to have the property be checked to be in good and clean condition. I have also paid money to ensure if I cause any damage to the property this cost is covered but right now the property is more likely to damage me. I can’t exactly maintain good upkeep of poor conditions.
All these things can quite easily wind me up. The cost of it all, monetarily, physically moving and emotionally are compounded by the fact that my old home was better. Lighter, more spacious, less overlooked, greener garden… lots of little things really. Mainly though, I know that I was happy there. Capable of great happiness. Content, safe, at home. And so far in the new place I’m irritated, falling over half-unpacked things, unsettled and generally feeling unjustly put upon. However, regretfully, it is beginning to seem that often in the real world things aren’t all that just.
I don’t know, this has got away from me somewhat. I guess really, now, this is about how I feel. The last house I lived in was the first place I called home outside of where I grew up with my parents. In the house I used to live I began my adult life, I made love on its floors and painted my blood on its walls. From hours, to days, to months I was building. Memories on memories, like bricks, to create a ‘home’. Moving scared me. I didn’t want to lose what I had. The new house falls short of what I used to have but I’m starting to realise that I haven’t lost my home. My home isn’t a place because my home is where I have never felt anything more. My home is with him, where I feel complete.