Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Home is a mental, not metal construct
I get up to pour another glass of wine from the box in the fridge; it's the almost-last until payday on Monday. Because of my trip 'home' last month. (Yes, I wrote box.)
My mind is on 'home', where I spent two weeks, one on either end of the Easter weekend. Not unlike a solid, heavy set of bookends.
Sometimes over the last three years, I've wondered if I'd maybe sold myself out. To the incoming text 'ping' my phone makes when my salary is paid into my account like clockwork every 25th of the month.
I did not even once have that monthly certainty in the almost seven years I lived permanently there; not that I expected it either. As a freelancer etc. financial security was never ever expected, nor on my agenda.
How do I know that I've not sold my soul for my current job and it's monthly text ping of reassurance? I know it because I love with endless passion what I do (and the people I work with), even though years later I earn less than I ever did then. I really don't care. Money does not drive me.
See that pic above? I took it as I got 'home'. It was after I got into the house with some fumbling at the new lock on the old and battered backdoor security gate, then turned the lights and geyser on, before skipping outside like Bambi to take a photo of the house beneath the glittering new moon. Excitement.
Years had passed.
Next morning I cut off the three fucked and faded 'for sale' signs on the fence and emailed the agents: no more. 'Home' had been on the market since mid-2012, when my world collapsed.
Home is a mental construct.
Many years ago, in December 1989 to be exact, I'd sat shivering to near death on a merciless wooden bench in Stockholm Train Station. It was the wee hours of the morning (my grandmother was from Edinburgh). I was clutching my overly big backpack watching two drunks loudly clouting each other and roaring Nordic obscenities. (I don't ever want to fuck with a Viking.) I was there because travelling in Scandinavia was extremely expensive for someone just out of 'national service' in the apartheid state's army. All I could afford was a Eurail pass and did my best to take trains to anywhere at night so that I could sleep sitting up. But warm. Because accommodation, even in youth hostels, was out of the question.
I was waiting for a train that was going to take me northwards. Far northwards. Across the frozen tundra, over the Arctic circle, into Finland.
I was thinking about home. I didn't have one.
I was fantasising about a place that I could call home, a place that would house my books on a rickety wooden bookshelf. A place that I could travel from, for even long periods at a time (who knew about the prison of debt at 21?), but that I could always return to. To the place where my books were. My plants too. The place where I could sink my hands into the loamy soil. Where I could light a fire outside the back door and cook my meat. And eat it straight off the grill. Also to light a fire in the hearth that's a pyjama-covered arm away from my bed on the nights when the escarpment edge temperatures plummeted low enough to freeze the water in my Free State sandstone birdbath. When the black frost, not unlike the Reaper, would obliterate my garden.
I had to come 'home', now, to realise that I was home, that I had one.
Okay, my last wine of this month is finished so my day might as well be over too. Cheers to me and my birthday, yesterday. Time lag; I've been under the weather. Terribly so.
Writing is therapeutic.