All holiday I’ve been thinking about that thing you’re not supposed to think about when you’re on holiday: home.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve managed a few hours where home hasn’t even been a place in my mind. No home, no place anywhere, just here and now. It’s why you go away. You go away to be away from wherever it is you normally are.
When you arrive back, just as the plane sinks, so do you. All those things you wanted to do, could do were going to, seem even further out of reach. People seem ruder and less pleasant back where you live; the rain scatters down, insistently. Is this really home, really where you want to be?
But then, home is different this time. Not just my home, but a home to make for someone else. A home to create. A feeling, not just a place. The security, safety and warmth.
I’ve been thinking back over the homes I grew up in, the places where I felt safe, and loved. The places where, even if I didn’t feel happy, I knew I was safe, and looked after, and cared for. You forget the colour of carpets or wallpapers; you just remember the feelings you had. Everything that went right or wrong happened at home. All the disaster and happiness. Everything. The centre of the universe – or yours, anyway.
When you’re tiny, you think the whole world is yours. Everything is about you and your needs. Everything is about what you want and what you can’t have. You grow, and wonder why everything can’t be the way you want it to be, learning that the reason why it isn’t is that this world wasn’t made for you. Only the tiny corner of it called home is yours.
How do you make a home? I have no idea and it’s my job. All you can do is bring as much love into it as you can, and hope. Hope that you get it right and everything goes well. Hope you aren’t as awful as one day you’ll seem, in teenage years or other times. Hope they’ll see through that, as I did, and remember everything good. Am I ready for that? Already?
The other day, I pressed my fingers against the belly of my girlfriend, and I felt something – someone – push back. She didn’t know who I was, this tiny person inside another person, but already she has made herself known. Soon her home will be my home, the one I make her. Soon her world will be mine. It fills me with every fear and every hope I’ve ever had.
Back home tomorrow. Whatever feelings it gives me to be back, I need to make it a place full of happiness and love. It’s not about me, anymore. It’s not about me, at all. It should be scary, and it is, but all I feel is relief. It wasn’t all about me; it never was. That centring on myself is over. At last.