Where the Heart Began

By C Slack

It is said home is where the heart is. I have had several 'homes' now in my time. I have taken my heart along with me on a long and bumpy road in search of the perfect home. Some of these said homes my heart has enjoyed more than others. Some have witnessed my broken heart, some have stolen it, and at times, some have filled it with so much joy, it has overflowed.

 As a child, my home was a four apartment in a custom built council housing scheme. This house sheltered myself, my parents and my three brothers. It wasn't just my house or even my home - it was 'My World'. Everyone I truly loved either lived there or visited there often. It was where my friends, my band of fellow 'council schemers', would call for me to go and play unending games of  'hidey' or 'chases' in the streets nearby. It was where I ate practically every meal since I was born and barring a couple of exceptions, where I lay my head every single night God sent.You know your childhood home better than any other home. I knew every nook and cranny, every creaky floorboard (handy when at last a teenager!) and every noise or breath which that house took I felt it like the vibrating murmurings of an old, familiar friend. And yet, as is the way, after a certain age, I couldn't wait to leave, to be all grown up and to 'have my own place', to be in charge of my own destiny, to be in charge of my own remote control! 

 As a twenty two year old, I stepped up onto that ladder of mortgage doom and purchased my first 'pad' - a two bed cottage flat. For the next five years, my treasured flat became my own little paradise at the heart of the emotional roller-coaster which transpired to be my twenties.  It became the life & soul for parties, and then equally, it gave a great big hug for the hangovers. It welcomed new loves with opened arms but quickly showed them the door when it didn't approve. It bore witness to my impending future until, once engaged to be married, it let me go with a heavy heart onto my next chapter, onto the next place I would call home.

 The 'Big One' came next - the marital home. I always thought this would be the easiest 'home', the house that would instantly become a home, but no - it wasn't. For a time, this house remained a stranger to me. It felt aloof to my advances, it made funny noises I did not understand, it did not look like anything that belonged to me. Furthermore, it wasn't completely mine, it also belonged to my newly appointed 'other half'!   Unlike my birth home, and the flat I had bought myself with my own hard-earned cash, this abode was full of sharing & compromise, it needed lots of tender loving care, an abundance of coaxing out of it's shell and reassurance to convince it did in fact belong to us. All of this however, unknown to me at the beginning, meant that it came to be a very dear home indeed. It grew to love us and we grew to love it. It toasted our marriage and then it gently wiped our tears away in our early fruitless quest to extend our family. It gathered us up and made us love each other stronger than ever before - finally, cheerfully, counting our two little blessings who then came along despite the proffered medical unlikeliness.  It wasn't strange with them at first as it was with us. No, It's love for them was immediate. It held us tight and safe those first few years, before finally feeling the strain of our growing brood, begrudgingly admitting defeat in being able to hold us all in. Despite our mutual adoration we all recognised the need to move on, to love is to let go.

 Today, as I sit and write this, from the house I now call home, as I watch my two little miracles swinging from pole to pole and race each other down the slides. As I witness their beaming grins and hear their gurgles of laughter I realise I have gone full circle on the home front. This is the house they are now going to grow up in. This is the place they will eat almost every meal, lay their shiny little heads of hair every night and where they will learn every note of its beating heart, know every hiding place, and welcome their childhood band of brothers into. They will know this house better than I ever will and yet as is the way, they too, will want to leave one day, want to spread their wings and become masters of their own domain, they will take everything from this here home and yet walk away like it had become an old, annoying relative. If we have grown them strong & independent, if they have courage and spirit they will go, and we will be sad, but we will know we have done our job well. 

 They will, however, return. They will visit us as we do ours. They will smell the familiar scents and be returned to the happy days of their childhood. They will be sad if it ever has to go, just like any old family relative - it's passing will leave an empty void no other home will ever be able to fill. There will be others and they will love them but they will never be that home they treasured as a child. They will never feel so safe or secure or tucked in anywhere ever again. Home is not necessarily where the heart is, in my case and I believe for many, home is, and always will be, where the heart began.