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Image Details: Sears Kit Home Model No. 115, 1908, Sears Archive

The Homefront Image.jpg

6 Feburary 2024

The Homefront


Moving home feels similar to admitting defeat. The final battle of your youth, and you couldn’t quite make it out of the trenches. The trenches being a rather palatable home in Surrey, with a kind and loving family. But let me have my pity party to celebrate my stripped independence. (P.S. I do love my parents; I just don’t love living with them)


I am one of the 37% who do venture home after their three-year gallivant.


And in knowing this, I have little choice but to cope. My parents’ house, still mine, but obscured. Different to how I remembered it at least. Now maybe it's due to my rose-tinted, nostalgic gaze or a reckoning with life moving on. Moving home after university feels deflating, even though I know it’s a well-trodden path. The only answerable way most of our age group can economically float. Even though stripping away the majority of a 21-year-old’s independent identity does come with its issues. Yet, many of us do find ourselves back in the same room where we watched the coming-of-age TV series, meanwhile enrolling ourselves in our own production of the teen drama. It seems that having done it for the first 18 years of our lives, we reluctantly halt at the conclusion we can do it again. We frame it in our minds as a “cosy trip home, a bit of calm after the ruckus of a university lifestyle, wholesome”. Nevertheless, it does little to plaster over the fact that we find it all so uncomfortable.


One would think it would be like coming home after a long holiday, the bed sheets are chilly, and the house seems empty, untouched in your absence. Re-joining the normal drum of your home’s life, constant in your abandonment. The only quirk is that it appears life has moved on without you there; the beat you once followed, has now changed, or maybe you have.


All you seem to feel is a rhythmic clutter; instead, now accustomed to your own band playing; your own composed song sheet in your home. 


A 21-year-old attempting to squeeze into her 18-year-old self shell is exactly what it sounds like, restrictive and awkward. The unsettling thought is that maybe a part of me yearns for the ease and simplicity. Finding anger in how unappreciative I was. Moving back with hope of finding the steadiness again, amidst the confusion of young adulthood. A reversion back to the place I last held it. No. Instead, I was met with a reflection of who I have become, a profit of my independence. 


The move home came packaged with a postcode landing me in a small village. Rest assured, all the clichés of a countryside village, as portrayed on TV, are correct— almost pinpoint. Although quaint, peaceful and picturesque; it is also close-minded, isolating and aspiration-less. A glass ceiling kind of place, there is only so far you can go until you reach a stunted growth where you can only see a future outside, apparently unreachable from your position. Moving aside the ‘woe is me’ message we all deviate to upon moving home. The village is delightful. Its charms haven’t deviated from when I was 16, not even since the 1600s. Henry VIII used to walk the path next to my house, romancing his soon-to-be wife, Ann Boleyn. A historical claim to fame. But name-dropping Henry isn’t really enough to ego-boost anyone in their 20s. Especially when her city friends casually have Kate Moss’ daughter’s name regularly in their mouths. Incomparable British icons but my mind seems to treat them like Top Trumps.


Lo and behold my parents love the place. Preaching it’s because I'm not of the age I want to be at a steady lull, but I will grow to recognise its charisma. Well, with the current amount of growing I have so far completed, I am of the firm opinion it is not for me. Present and future that is. I can see why my parents chose to raise a family there. Hospitable, safe and wholesome. But a teenager doesn't desire idyllic. Yearning for trepidation and elation, exposure to risks outside of mundane normality. In hindsight, Surrey’s probably a good choice of setting for a teenager to inhabit; little to no risk of fucking up. My mum, nor dad have changed, still dutifully playing the roles of Countryfile’s prime characters. Rather British. It's good, it suits them. I wouldn’t want them to change, it would make the feeling of going home all the more unpalatable.


The sweet welcoming smiles of the people I know, finding refuge in their constancy. Consistency in care, opinions and warmth. The love we share and inhabit is what makes the arguments all the more explosive. Met with an artillery of questions at nine in the morning. Bombarding questions such as, where I'm going, what I'm doing and who I'm seeing. A shock to the system, frankly jarring. I find myself pondering, “They couldn’t possibly have been this bad before I left”. Coming to the consensus I was probably just used to it, not knowing any different. Finding solace in the knowledge that it's not out of protection anymore, just an interest in my life. My parents undoubtedly are one of the best, most important parts of my life, and I'm lucky to know they will stick by my side no matter what, always close to me. I just don’t need to be physically this close. Having outgrown the crutches of cohabiting in the same nest, ready to make my own. 


Not enough room in our fridge for both my vegetarian food and their meat. Not enough coat hangers for my coats and theirs. And simply no space for my kitchen pots from my home to move to our fully furnished home. Not enough room for me anymore.


Moving home has been as reckoning as moving out once was. Learning new things from what my old self left behind. Knowing that the love from home and those who encompass it are still as kind and loving as before my departure. Padding me with the courage to expand beyond my charming village. A feeling I know I'm lucky to carry. Moving out isn’t despising the place you’re leaving. It’s rather the opposite. Recognising it for its moulding of you. Leaving is accepting you are malleable and ready to experience new places’ engravings while recognising your core sculpture is never changing, a product of your childhood home. Your home, something as unique to you as your fingerprint. 


Independence brought growth, not always pretty, yet entirely beautiful even in its ugly.


Self-reflection forced change, starkly evident since leaving home. Impossible not to notice the contrast to my younger, sheltered self. Proud of the person I've become, without dismissing fond nostalgia for my child-self. It's a display of expanded personal growth, akin to the character development we cherish in novels about young adulthood. Perhaps moving home is our plot arc.


Moving back home is shit, I know. But recognising it for the liberties it has merited - the luxury of having a place to call home, a family to return to, and a place which was fundamentally part of who you became in moving out. 

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