A writing prompt on the internet this week (‘Leaving Home’) reminded me of a piece my then teenage daughter Morgan wrote in 2013. She would have been aged around 17, and her father passed away for three years. One night, and unknown to me, she couldn’t sleep and wrote about leaving her home instead.
The time is fast approaching when I must pack up my things and leave my home forever.
As someone who has never moved, I have only known one home and the different things that make it so. These things have become embedded in my subconscious, causing the word home to become synonymous with ‘Seacroft.’
In my mind, no matter how far I stray from that rambling farmhouse, I see it there sitting quietly, patiently waiting for me and the return of our blended family and the resulting hubbub of our family gatherings.
This house has many secrets, some known only to me.
The rug in the Living Room placed so slightly off centre due to the red nail polish I spilled on the brand new “very expensive carpet” which had been gifted one Christmas to my parents by my Grandmother.
The patched over hole in the Dining Room door due to me keeping my sister a reluctant prisoner and ‘someone’ subsequently kicking a hole through it.
There is the spot in the Study where I would sit every evening during the holidays and watch UK Gold re-runs of ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘The Vicar of Dibley,’ with Dad silently laughing as he watched with me and held an overseas conference call at the same time.
I have learned to navigate the entire house without a single noise, a triumph due to the extensive wood floors which creak if you so much as look at the wrong spot.
I have also learned the precise sounds various people make as they run up and down the stairs. Mum a quick continuous pattern with every step being used, whereas my brother, Hart, will miss out two or three causing a wholly irregular one.
I also still listen intently for a certain footfall on those stairs that I have now not heard for three years. This is the steady almost pulse-like sound of Daddy coming up those well-worn steps to bring me a much-needed cup of tea. I do not think it is a coincidence that since those tea fuelled nights I have not truly wanted a cuppa since.
There is a slight gap indented in the ginormous bed in Mum and Dad’s room. Mum’s room, now. I would always be resigned to that gap when I ventured up there because of nightmares or the like. But when so resigned, I would look at the ceiling and the-glow-in-the-dark stars Mummy had stuck on the beams and I would feel better.
I know the exact spot in my room where I’ll get the best Wi-Fi, or the best placement of the mirror to receive the most sunlight. I know to be careful jumping on the bottom half of my spare bed as it will collapse like so many times before.
I know the flecking paint on my ceiling is due to my misguided attempt to make my room more disco-like by threading baubles onto pieces of thread and sellotaping them to the ceiling.
I know the perfect way to make my door shut without using its handle – because it doesn’t have one.
I know by heart the sound of rain on my window.
I know my sister Tess used to lie in the hall between her bedroom and the bathroom to be equi-distance from tissues and sleep when her Summer nose bleeds re-surfaced. Our brother, Robbie, sleeping next door to her room, always…well slept during those episodes.
I know the exact sound a car makes pulling up in the gravel in our driveway, and the feel of Christmas in our Living Room.
And yet it will not only be Seacroft that I will be leaving. It will also be the small village that has come to be my needed solitude from the bustle of Cambridge, and the people that have made my life here so full.
A house I often condemned as being cold and draughty, and too out of the way and isolated, has, in fact, become my fourth sibling and my third parent and so I do not believe that I will ever truly leave Seacroft.
Whilst not always my house, it shall forever be my home and I look forward to the day when I can maybe walk down the gravel driveway and see my house sitting there, unassumingly, patiently waiting for me and my memories to return.
My teenage daughter wrote about leaving her home…and I cried.