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Leaving home

July 20, 2012

My sister and I are trying to sell our parents’ house. Mum and Dad both died in the last 18 months and we knew neither of us would want it as a holdiay home or to rent it out. It’s been on the market nearly a year and not had that many viewings and fewer offers. But at last there is an offer, albeit very low, but someone who at least has nearly sold their own place so maybe it will sell.

The Old House. Yes, it was that wonky.

It wasn’t the house we grew up in. Childhood was split between Scotland, a rambling country house on the Welsh borders and then a beautiful 17 th century house in the middle of a dull Welsh town. Parts ofThe Old House (as it was imaginatively called) dated back to the fourteenth century – there were beams galore, wattle and daub walls, leaded windows, nooks and crannies.

I had the smallest bedroom and papered it (with my father’s help) with a blue paisley wallpaper when I was about 12.

The wallpaper in my bedroom

I loved that little room even though the frost would be on the inside of the windows in winter (there was no central heating), and it was directly underneath the town clock tower that struck every 15 minutes. Even during the night. But it was mine all mine. With all my bits and bobs, clutter and crap. I had even made a ‘bureau’ which doubled as my desk and chest of drawers and had got in kit form from Woolworths (this was before the days of B and Q). Our granmother had a proper bureau which I had always loved as a child and hankered after, so I got the kit version for my 12th birthday. Wasn’t quite the same, but it functioned.

Once I had left home for Atlantic college aged 16 there were no mobiles or emails so a weekly or fortnightly telephone call and an occasional letter kept us in touch with each other. I didn’t come home during term time – it wasn’t allowed at Atlantic College as those from abroad couldn’t just pop home, so we weren’t allowed to either. However, we did have Project Weeks where we went off to do stuff in the real world – a bit like work experience nowadays. And for one of them I went up to the Octagaon theatre in Bolton, the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester and then down to the Sherman in Cardiff.Coming down from Manchester to Cardiff I decided to drop in on my parents unannounced. It was a minor train detour and what the hell.

I rolled up to the front door to find it locked. My parents had never locked the door as far as I knew – we always just lifted the latch and walked in. So I rang the bell. To be greeted by a complete stranger. “Oh hello.” I said” Are my parents in?” I didn’t really think it was that odd. Dad sometimes had work colleagues round. “Are you one of the Morgan girls?” he asked? “Yes ” I said, puzzled at the question. “Oh they’ve moved. We bought the house a fortnight ago. They don’t live here any more.” I was somewhat taken aback. I had no idea they were even thinking of moving. Not a mention in a letter or a phone call. “Do you know where they are?” I asked. And he did. And it was only a mile or so outside of town. So I plodded off with my rucksack and found their new place.

Our parents’ house that we are trying to sell

Looking back on it now I find it incredible that they simply moved house without letting me know. Or even mentioning it as a possibility. But at the time I wasn’t bothered. It never occurred to me to feeel hurt that they hadn’t consulted me about it. For them, I had left home to go to sixth form college and would never live with them again so what I thought was irrelevant. They bundled my entire bedroom paraphernalia in to a trunk and put it in the eaves of the roof in their new bungalow. Done and dusted. All my childhood memorabilia packed away. And no’ home’ for me to come back to. I had left one house six weeks earlier to return to college, and came back to find I no longer lived there. This was it. I had officially left home.

Or, more correctly, it had officially left me.

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