Home is where ancient aunts do crosswords and tell stories of alien world with polo ponies and flying fish, where Meccano is on the floor, and John Peel is on the radio; the Aunt is gone but the crosswords and the music linger on.
Home is where the hills are round and green, clotted with sheep, where you can see the watertower from the top and from that same old walk over the railway bridge with Grandad; the Grandad is gone but sometimes the driver still toots as the train goes under.
Home is when you pass the sign “West Sussex” and punch the air after 7 hours gnashing your teeth on the motorways, when Angus the Satnav voice says 20 minutes to go and Mum has already boiled the kettle twice. Where you are always welcome and always loved. Where you are always a child.
Home is here, now, where I am grown up. My own house, full of stained glass and found objects, craft experiments and junk. My own shed. A place of steeper hills, decorated with horses, old waggonways, an angel. The sea, endlessly sandy and fringed with not-quite-islands. Where I hope one day to have “my own seat” in the local pub, where my neighbour works. A community. Who don’t care who or what, only if you help with gritting the steep end of the lane.
Home is family. The family we build piece by piece, carefully, like Meccano. Brothers who become neighbours. Lovers who become sisters, acquaintances who become best friends. Friends - who know us as we are and who follow us when we explore who we might be, holding the torch. Ladies of a certain age who socialise at lunchtime, go for nice walks then go home and take our bras off – just because we can. Who still debate politics, discuss Shakespeare, giggle over love affairs and the prospect of retirement; who struggle to make art. Who still march, but sometimes with a trekking pole. Who might sometimes go clubbing, but are home in time to watch Vera on catch-up.
Home is a snail shell I carry around, full of fragments; fragrant with memories; light enough to wear everyday. An identity- that survives different towns, villages, careers, fads, friendships, lovers, samba bands and girlie gangs – enriched and expanded by them all. A beautiful patchwork; a steampunk, Faberge caddisfly case. A place of safety. A place of strength. A place to start from.
Eighton Banks 2019