Up and down our road the last couple of years has seen competitive house building such that medium size houses have become big, big houses have become enormous and enormous houses have become vast. You can't help but feel that when empty nesters start building basement swimming pools - with the garden carved out so that a panoramic window can be incorporated - and orangeries, it's a case of too much money and people not knowing what to spend it on. My guess is that these are houses, not homes.
Like two ships not quite passing in the night, The Cat arrived home on Thursday, and The Boy departed on Wednesday. She texted me "On M5, ETA 15.10. HOMEWARD BOUND". The Boy put a message on Facebook when he got back to Kitzbuhel, "Good to be home". Both caused a bit of a ripple. The Cat has absolutely loved her first year at Exeter. So much so that I had assumed it had become a second home to her. But perhaps not..what I had forgotten is that The Cat is a girl who loves her home and family more than anything...so I shouldn't be surprised she was very happy to be returning. Perhaps Exeter is somewhere that she enjoys, but sees no lasting bond...let's see over the next couple of years.
The Boy has had an amazing few months...he took himself off without the certainty of a job, or somewhere to live, but very quickly found his feet...a job he loves, a settled place to live and some great comrades...people with a similar outlook on life. Kitzbuhel itself is beautiful...the town, the scenery and the people themselves are lovely. No wonder he feels at home there. It's his place...he has found a degree of peace there...after all it can't be doubted that his childhood was quite a disjointed one..his parents divorcing, then his mother dying, and his father not in a steady relationship until he met The Cat's Mother...even his home life was divided between Brighton and London. More than that, I understand how he feels...I enjoyed some time between school and uni up the mountains, albeit just working in a hotel, rather than gaining a qualification...but I too found a peace and serenity that meant that when I returned, with The Boy in tow, a few years ago, I was moved to tears. Hopefully, he will also find that when he travels up to Scotland he will discover that Edinburgh can be a true home for him.
For myself, I always think of having two homes...I cannot deny that Brighton is for me the place where I feel I belong...I've had the same flat for the last 25 years, and everytime I visit, I feel I'm coming home...I love the smell of the sea, the sound of the waves crashing and the seagulls calling...I like the slower pace of life and the sense that beyond the horizon when I look out to see is a world of possibilities and adventure. My other home is not so much Epping Forest...its OK, but I don't much care for Loughton, or the people there (friends excepted of course!), or the tawdry high street full of chain restaurants...but it is where The Cat's Mother is, and that is most important to me...proving that home is not always a house...it's where your heart is.