There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and window sills
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
The idea of ‘home’ is something that’s been running around in my head these last few months. Matt and I recently bought a house together, which is not only a large financial commitment but a pretty big emotional one as well. I first came to the UK in January last year with the idea that I’d give life in the UK as go for 6 months, and see where Matt and my relationship stood after many years apart. Through the bad times in adjusting to my new life, I was always comforted by the idea that if things didn’t work out then I could just leave and there’d be nothing holding me in the UK.
But from January of this year, things began to shift when I bought a car and began to slowly plant some roots in England, albeit begrudgingly at times. I voted in the elections this year, and began to feel a tie to England as I debated with my colleagues on British policy and what I wanted to see in my future in the next five years. For the first time since moving over, I felt not only a connection but a sense of ownership of England’s future as I cast my vote.
While all of these internal feelings were raging, Matt began talking about getting a house together. A house for our future together, which both terrified and excited me at the same time. Taking a mortgage and becoming a home owner is a massive commitment for anyone, especially when you are trying to figure out this whole ‘adult responsibilities’ thing. But buying a home in another country that I don’t consider as my own, and in many ways still baffles me culturally, is even more scary. And in the back of my mind was the fact that in many ways I would be closing the door on coming back to South Africa in the near future, something which still grieves me greatly. I have never wanted to be someone who is associated with being a bitter expat who has given up on South Africa. Quite the opposite in fact. But as we debated our future together, hopes for our relationship and careers, it felt like the next step. And so with a leap of faith, we found our house – the ugly duckling.
Years of neglect, filth and a decor scheme straight out of the 1980’s, had me dubious at first. It was not love at first sight, and not even at second sight. The horrors of a chocolate brown and pale pink bathroom still haunt me today. But underneath the grime, the floral carpets and cobwebs – was a shell of promise.
That’s how I’ve come to think about ‘home’ these days; a place of possibility, love and freedom. Freedom to be and freedom to create my own definition of what home is for me. It’s no longer confined to a physical address or even a country; it’s about having some sense of belonging and creating a refuge where explanations aren’t necessary and where I can make sense of my life, even if I don’t fully understand the world outside of my four walls.
I hope you’ll follow the house’s journey on this blog as we lovingly restore her and create a home.