One of my biggest worries when I faced my final few weeks at university, besides the exams, was coming home. Back to the home that knew the naive, young thing that I was at 18. I grew up at Uni. A lot. I found independence and I was reluctant to lose it, I’d become my own person. I’d gotten so used to my own space, cooking my own tea, going out when I wanted, for as long as I wanted and returning home when it seemed fit, that going home to my parents seemed potentially stifling.
My sister was pregnant. At 18. It was a huge shock initially, as so many things are when they creep up on you, unexpected, out of the blue. Something great had happened in our family, in the sense that we had something incredibly exciting on the brink of arrival but things had shifted so much. Priorities had changed and I didn’t feel like the oldest anymore. My three years of academic education and independent living, my experiences of being a student were nothing compared to motherhood. I was the older sister, I was supposed to get married first, have a child first, set up a home first. And initially it all just served to remind me that my life hadn’t turned out even remotely as I’d wanted it to.
And in that weird transition between studenthood and adulthood, I became the stereotypical disillusioned graduate, the eternal student mourning the loss of freedom, my own space. My bitterness fueled by empty promises and the economic climate. I had a degree, a suitcase full of new clothes, a newly purchased bundle of rabbitty fluff named Gray C cowering on my lap and a wonderful summer but all of this was outlined by the stark and looming reality of real life.
But home wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. It was quite the opposite. My sister was 7 months pregnant when I moved back home, groaning like a humpback whale but glowing all the same. She and Henry got engaged towards the end of June and they moved into their little flat together in August, just in time for baby Sophie to arrive on the 26th; conveniently early so I could meet her before I went to Europe for the month. Pink, tiny and full of the promise of life.
But my Sister bled a lot after the birth and the Doctors rushed her off on a trolley to fix her, leaving her crimson imprint all over the floor and a new father all alone with his daughter. They fixed her, thank God. But it was a close call. Child birth is no walk in the park, that’s for sure, although a good walk in the park is said to induce labour. These three little peas are living happily now, a mummy, a daddy and the cutest, smiliest baby, that’ve I’ve ever known.
And with my sister all moved out, it’s quieter here; lonelier sometimes. She’s a Mum now and our lives are completely different. Contrasting roles and dilemas.
Our spaces are different, hers swamped with toys and carpenters tools, nappies and sudocrem, bottles and a pram. Mine, completely my own, selfishly decked out in vintage pieces and a wallpaper to die for. A white wooden double bed and gossamer curtains, and too many fairy lights. And a bureau, a chest crammed full of potential stories and pens and paper. A room, ‘…quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.’ – Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
I have an obsession with old objects. Typewriters, cameras, leather bags, glass jars, opera glasses and books. And so, over the past year, I’ve acquired three gorgeous typewriters, five cameras and numerous other knick knacks And finally my room is complete, bar an old telephone that I must invest in and a bedside table of course; to avoid treading on my phone every morning. But it’s vintage vastness makes me smile and with my writing area complete, an eclectic array of bargain second hand frames climbing up the white wall that I painted last summer; I feel my creative juices skipping about my veins. It is the loom of Canterbury Cathedral above my head, the call of New York and Paris, Roald Dahl’s stare and a rabbit jumping on a trampoline that make my hands itch to clasp a pen and scribble and etch across the clean page of 2013.
My parents supplied me with various vintage trinkets this year for Christmas, including an ancient scrabble set and Topsy and Tim books. But best of all was the chair they purchased for me on our visit to the antique ridden Lewes, yesterday. If you like all things retro and Kirstie Allsopp then Lewes is the place to go. It makes for a lovely day out, even with the drizzle of rain.
I got a little bit carried away with my camera (the delish Nikon 1) so enjoy my bedroom’s very own photo shoot.
And now with this grown up room, having settled back into to the way things are here; I feel better. I may not have a boyfriend, or a job and my hope may sometimes feel a little sparse. But I do have friends and a family that love me. And with the aid of this sanctuary, coated and stamped in all the things I love; this muddled jamboree of eras crammed into the borders of my own private country, I can escape to anywhere. I can type at one of my many typewriters, and be Doris, a 1940’s journalist with tight red lips and brown hair scooped into the clasps of tortoise shell combs, sporting a blouse and mid-knee pleated skirt. The possibilities are endless when you hold the vehicle that is the pen, for it is mightier than the sword.
Roald Dahl, my literary hero, actually my all time hero, for his boldness and honesty, had a writing space of Kings. A hut, a shed, a womb; a vicinity entirely devoted to the art of authorship. I like to think that he’d approve of mine.
So my writing arena is ready, set to go because this year people, 2013, is the year to write that book you always said you’d write.
Do it. Before something else crops up. Turn over a new leaf, sharpen your pencils and write like a writer should.
I certainly intend to give it a damn good whirl.
Before I have a boyfriend or a baby of my own to distract me. Before I have a house to run and errands to see to. Before the school run dominates my mornings and the kitchen beckons. I want all this believe me I do. So much. One day. But for now the future is blank, unwritten upon, fresh crisp and limitless; lead and ink free. No ties, no chains, absolute freedom and possibility.
And this positivity will most probably expire on the 7th of January.