Home

HOME

noun

1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of aperson, family, or household.

2. the place in which one's domestic affections are centered.

Photo 25-11-2017, 13 00 46.jpg

I got ill this week. What started off with a scratchy throat on Sunday evening turned into a full blown coughing, sneezing, watery-eyed cold by the Tuesday, which left me feeling very sorry for myself with no one to look after me and had me questioning why I ever moved out in the first place. Yes I was sick but, even worse, I was homesick.

It wasn't just the cold - there were definitely other seemingly insignificant things that led to my homesickness. I've started hesitantly filling in my new address in online forms, I received my first proper piece of post through the door last week and, in a conversation with my Dad at the weekend, it was pointed out that I now refer to London as home. The latter was quickly rebuffed with a half joking "yes but I refer to anywhere with a bed as home."

Half joking because I do. When I board the train a couple of Fridays a month and head back to Bournemouth for the weekend, I say I'm going home. And when I get back on said train (sometimes on a Sunday evening cut short, sometimes on a painfully early Monday morning) I also say I'm going home. I call my Mum's house home and my Dad's house home and the house I've only lived in for two months and share with four other people I don't really know? That gets called home too. 

My (now permanent thank god, but more on that later) job is here, in London. A lot of my possessions are here, in London. And I spend approximately 528 hours a month (yes I did some maths) here, in London. But you see, it doesn't feel like my life it here. Not yet. Not when all of the people I love, the ones who feel like home, are all a two-hour train ride away. Which yes, could be worse. In the grand scheme of the big wide world, two hours is miniscule. Yet it doesn't feel that way when you're friends are arranging trips to the cinema via WhatsApp, and you're desperately missing the long gone Monday evening gym class with your Mum and you could really really just do with meeting up with your best friend for dinner after work. If we're doing clichés – which I'd rather not but I seem to have walked straight into one – I suppose home really is where the heart is. Or at least where the plans made via WhatsApp are happening. 

In lieu of all the bits I'm missing, I've tried to make this home here in London feel as 'home home' as possible. I've filled my bedroom with prints and more plants than I really know how to take care of, and I've got pretty good at keeping it tidy too. 

On the free weekends I do have, I'm trying to get to know London a little better. Or at least well enough to not have to open up Google Maps every time I leave the house. Last Sunday morning I took myself on a walk to Putney. Yes, I may have followed the blue dot to get myself there, but on the way back I made do without and walked back through the park and, on my walk home, I felt incredibly fortunate to live in such a lovely area. In between the there and the back, I found myself in a Waterstones café* with a cup of tea and some raspberry and coconut cake and I felt incredibly content and it almost maybe felt a little bit like home.

 

*I googled 'café' to check the correct accent direction, and it immediately offered me a selection of cafés in the Bournemouth area and, of course, I promptly burst into tears. Even my laptop doesn't know where home is. 

Progress

progress

noun

forward or onward movement toward a destination.

I watched three episodes of Peep Show this afternoon. This past month I've read two books. I've only cried once this week.

Almost two months ago, I sat in the waiting room for my last CBT session. My therapist was late (as per) and I was thinking a lot about how it was definitely my last session out of circumstance rather than by choice. But it was my last session nonetheless. I'd done five months (admittedly on and off) of therapy, and I didn't feel how I wanted to feel. Or maybe, how I thought I was supposed to feel.

I wanted a cure. I was also hoping that by trying to deal with my anxiety, that it would then have a domino effect on the depression. It didn’t. And so I was frustrated and angry and felt as though I’d failed.

But then last week I found myself seven seasons deep into Peep Show – which I know sounds incredibly inconsequential, so just bear with me.

Four, actually maybe even two, months ago I couldn’t concentrate. On anything. As someone who thrives on their alone time, I was at a total loss. I couldn’t read a book, I couldn’t watch a film and there was no way I could keep up with a new TV show. Broadchurch bypassed me, I was two seasons behind on Made in Chelsea, and I hadn’t made use of my Netflix subscription in weeks. I would rather lie in bed, totally consumed by my own thoughts, because I was unable to bring myself to do anything but.

So the sudden ability to just sit down and enjoy – and I use the term enjoy loosely here, because is enjoy really the word for Peep Show – a few episodes seemed miraculous to me.

I’ve started reading again too. Back in April I finished my first book in months and, as soon as I put it down, I burst into tears. Since then, I’ve finished five. Five whole books. Something that seemed incomprehensible a few months ago.

And of course progress isn’t linear. There are mornings when I wake up and know that the rest of the day will be a struggle. That I’ll have to take the day an hour at a time, and fight back tears on the tube, and count down the hours until I can go back to bed. But there are also mornings when I wake up and think about what I might get for breakfast on my way to work, and read my book on the tube, and don’t feel the need to get straight into bed come 7pm.

So I’m clinging on to these little things. Because it may not be linear, but maybe progress is finishing a book and wanting to pick up another, and going six out of seven days without crying, and sleeping through the whole night.

And maybe I need to be ok with that. 

Change

change

noun

the act or instance of making or becoming different.

IMG_4896.jpg

I used to think I was afraid of change. Six months of CBT has taught me, however, that what I'm actually scared of is the uncertainty that accompanies change (although that's another story for another time – really, it's currently saved in my drafts.)

This past month, my life has seen a lot of change. I left my job, got offered a new one, found a place to live, and started said new job, all in the space of 18 days. For months I'd been craving change. I needed something new, something different, something to shake off the uninvited black cloud that had been following me round for what felt like a lifetime.

Then it happened.

And now? Now I'm not really sure how to feel. I'm a mixture of terrified and excited and sad and apprehensive and a few more adjectives thrown in for good measure. But all of these feelings aren't trigged by the change itself, they stem from the uncertainty of leaving my comfort zone. And, although my comfort zone is a nice place full of naps and beds and cats, it was getting pretty limiting. 

Change is good, and if I keep telling myself that, I might start to believe it. Things change and people change and circumstances change, and that's ok. I've changed so much in the past couple of years, I can look back and read things back and struggle to recognise myself. On the outside, I probably look the same; minus a few lbs and a couple of inches off may hair. But I think nicer thoughts and I feel different things and, whilst I've found life more difficult, ultimately I'm pretty sure I've changed for the better.

Nothing stays the same. Not forever. Some things just change quicker and more drastically than others. And it might be scary, but I think it might be ok too. 

Compliment

compliment

noun

a polite expression of praise or admiration.

You know the warm feeling you get when someone compliments your new dress? I like to extend that feeling to other people. I tell people when I admire their outfits, and congratulate them on their achievements, and never think twice about doing so. Yet I – and by I, I definitely also mean we – rarely ever extend the same treatment to myself* (*ourselves). 

When you're feeling especially 'not enough', it can be hard to remember the things that make you 'more than enough'. I know this because it took me weeks to think of enough things take up more than an opening paragraph. But I also know that there are things. And it's about time we started complimenting ourselves. 

Things that I like

My freckles. During the winter months, I can almost forget that they're there. I suppose that's what comes with looking at the same face in the mirror every day. But in the Summer, they come out in full force, and every year I'm reminded how much I love them. How I really quite good at remembering things. Things like someone's favourite colour, an unimportant and not very interesting fact, what I was wearing on a specific day three months ago. Those sorts of things. My hair. 24 years later and I've finally started agreeing when people tell me they like it. Because so do I. Most days. My sense of humour. I'm not laugh out loud funny. My jokes leave leave a lot to be desired. But I'm quick, and I can muster up many a context based sarcastic comment. I amuse myself anyhow. My body. Yes, I said it. Not all of it. Definitely not all of it. But I wouldn't be sharing the above photos if I didn't like something about it, right? Loyalty. I feel like this is a weird one, but I was recently asked to describe myself in three words, and 'loyal' was one of them. If I like you, you're kind of stuck with me. I tend not to give up, and absolutely hate to disappoint. In fact, let's add reliability to the list too. I like to pretend I'm not one for star signs, but if I were? Well I'm such a Taurus. My intelligence. I may have given up on academia around the same time I gave up on my Journalism degree, but I've managed to keep the clever thing going to some extent. I like to learn new things, and I manage to have the odd intelligent thought every so often. And lastly, to quote Maurice Moss – “I like being weird. Weird's all I've got. That and my sweet style.” – I can put together a pretty decent outfit, and enjoy myself whilst doing it. 

And there we have it. It may be hard to always like myself, but it's doable. Even if I could only come up with nine reasons for now.

Memory

memory

noun

  1. the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information

  2. something remembered from the past.

For the most part, I like to think I have a pretty good memory. Long-term, it's fantastic. I can remember details of events from years ago, what I was wearing when a certain thing happened, and who said what in conversations that no one else seems to remember. I'm also good at remembering the little – some may say insignificant – things. A co-workers favourite colour, or what they had for dinner three nights ago. And yes, sometimes (maybe too often) I'll open a new tab in my browser, or get up from my desk and have absolutely no idea what I was about to do. But like I said, for the most part, my memory is pretty good. And I love this.

I've been told before – with eye-rolls and the implication that I'm being silly – that we choose how we remember things. But of course we choose how we remember things. 

When I remember my childhood, it's in a late spring/early summer haze. It comes in flashes. A montage of green and picnics and stomping on the berries in the pathway by the park. It's triangle sandwiches and Sylvanian villages in the garden and midnight feasts at 9pm because three eight-year-olds can't stay awake until midnight. 

My teenage years are less flashes and more lingering. It's Saturday afternoon cupcakes and Skins and The Wombats' A Guide to Love Loss and Desperation on repeat. It's cold Februarys and then, later, warm summer evenings and sand in my shoes that I can never get rid of. 

And now, things that were once a 'last year I did this' or 'this time two years ago...' are fast becoming memories too. Albeit more solid ones. Ones that smell of coffee and a certain scented hand wash that I can't use anymore. Mid-week days off and constant train journeys and Taylor swift on repeat whilst driving through the forest. 

It might sound terribly nostalgic, all of this, but there's something so wonderful about trawling the corners of your mind and reliving things from the past. The thing is, because I'm so fascinated by it all, it means I'm also very scared of forgetting. 

And so I write things down. I record the flashes. And if they change over time and I choose to remember them differently, then so be it.