Day Eleven: Size Matters (In Sentences)
Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Which town, city, and country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?
Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.
Ok – so here’s the problem – to pin point exactly which house I lived in at the age of twelve, is a little like asking an intoxicated Octopus to pin the tail on an even drunker donkey – there are just too many pins, too many possible outcomes, and the whole process is likely to be excruciatingly painful!
You see, growing up, we moved house so many times that in order to figure out which of the fourteen houses we occupied when I was twelve years old, I’d first need to compile a list of addresses (which is fairly achievable, provided I stick to street names only) – but then I would need to arrange this list into some form of consecutive order (generally, I am able to get this around 70% correct) – however, this part is made trickier by the fact that, on two separate occasions, we moved back to the same street some three or four years later (just on the opposite side of the road) – and at one point, we even moved back into the same house we had lived in six to seven years prior!
So as you can imagine, creating a logical timeline that matches up to our lengthy list of postcodes, is somewhat of a painstakingly long and arduous task – especially since, on average, Mum moved house every one to two years, meaning that it’s even possible that I lived at two different addresses during my twelfth year. With so many house moves under Mum’s belt – it all just became a bit of a blur. One thing I have been asking myself (and Mum) as I’ve gotten older is – ‘Why did we move house so much?’ It’s not like we ever had any real trouble with our neighbours, (apart from the odd game of knock a door run, which is a fairly normal occurrence in most neighbourhoods); we were never unfortunate enough to experience a flood or a fire in our home; and as far as I am aware – we weren’t on the run from the police! So why were our house moves as frequent as the change in British weather? The only explanation that we’ve ever been able to come up with as a family is – that Mum just got bored.
Most people, when they get bored with their homes, choose to re-decorate…or change the furniture around, maybe even do some home improvements, and as a last resort – they might eventually decide to move house. Not Mum. Mum would move house as a first resort – she would come home from work and announce, “We’re moving.” Just like that! These moves would often be sudden and unexpected, especially as there were never any buying or selling processes involved. Since we lived on council estates, all Mum had to do was look at the house exchange list, find a suitable and willing tenant to swap houses with, contact the council – and off we’d trot again – boxes, belongings and furniture in tow!
As children, we became rather good at packing up our things. We had too – there was never any choice in the matter really. Looking back, I suppose the only reason why my sisters and I weren’t profoundly affected by our countless house moves was that, fortunately, Mum never made us change schools. As deeply unsatisfied as Mum was about living in Tameside, Manchester – she always remained close enough for us to get to school, even if that meant longer commutes. I suppose, for me at least, the only impact our gypsy-esk lifestyle whilst growing up triggered, is my current inability to become attached to places, since I have rarely been fixed in one location for more than two years. Whilst most of my friends treasure memories of birthdays and Christmases, of taking their first steps and experiencing their first heartbreak, all under one roof (or at most, two or three) – mine are scattered all over Tameside and the countries I have lived in since. It does, at times, feel as though my sense of belonging has been buried beneath the dense layers of disorientation, as though my life has somehow become lost in location – a traveler with no real sense of home. However, despite this, I know that one day I will find a place to call home and until then, I will continue to uncover the many hidden treasures of this beautiful planet.
I suppose, over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Mum was never really happy living in Tameside. She always expressed a desire to have a home near the countryside, or to live somewhere overseas, or anywhere that just wasn’t Tameside really. We often joke that if Mum added up the cost of all the removal vans over the years, and the cost of re-decorating (which Mum always does to an impeccable standard, much to the satisfaction of the local councils, who have been in receipt of her free home improvement services for years) – that Mum could have put a deposit on that perfect home in the perfect location.
As it goes, I spoke to Mum recently and she informed me of her plans to move again, to another house in Tameside twenty minutes from her current one – a home she has lived in for less than two years (I believe this is house number nineteen.) As for me, I’m moving from Oxford back to Australia in the New Year, with my partner of five years who I met whilst living in New Zealand. That is where we hope to settle, to finally put a deposit on a place we can call ‘home’, a home for our future children to walk their first steps in, to experience their first heart break in… And who knows – one day I might even have enough money to pay for Mum to join us, to finally buy her that dream home away from Tameside…