IT HAS been a while since I’ve lived in my own home. What with the Mexicans moving in during the Festival, working away, trips to London, a hen do and various other curve balls lobbed at me, I haven’t slept in my own bed three nights in a row for weeks.
Sure, I’ve dropped in now and then to dump a bag, pick up some knickers or eat cornichons straight from the jar by the light of the fridge. Then, like the Littlest Hobo, I’ve just kept moving on.
I’ve basically been treating the place with all the respect of a teenager. With one crucial difference. There are no parents here to clean up my mess or pay the mortgage, just a lot of dirty washing and unopened mail addressed to Mr Chiltra Ramawama, whom by a process of deduction one can only assume is your correspondent. I guess that if you really whittle it down, this is what it means to be an adult: misspelled mail and an overflowing laundry basket.
Last time I was passing through, I lingered a while to run my hand over the surfaces and stand in the cloud of dust, coveting my own stuff. There was my bed, perfectly made, the pillow puffed up in anticipation of my sleepy head. And Zadie Smith’s new novel on my bedside table, waiting obediently for life to slow down enough for me to return home and crack its spine. And my music collection, the songs sans ears to hear them. And my button box, which though I never use the contents, always has the power to move me. “There will come a time,” I vowed as I headed to the bathroom to cradle my conditioner, “when I live here again.”
And true to my word, here I am. Home, like the proverbial pigeon. What might have happened in my absence? Perhaps the boiler has burst (though it usually only behaves badly in my presence). Or the Essex Lion has moved in. Or maybe the phone, which for weeks now has been emitting alien-like screams and beeps, is working.
I let myself in after observing that the name plate on the door has not fallen off. A good sign. I check the window boxes. The one in the spare room still has an enormous spider lurking in it. In protest, I stopped watering it a few weeks back, which means everything in it is now dead. There are always casualties in war, I reason. The window box in the bedroom has fared even worse. Before I left it was springing with so much fragrant lavender that it was almost impossible to close the window without beheading a few buds. Now it has, erm, gone AWOL. I open the window and peer down the street. No window box, and no body. I think I’ve got away with it.
In the kitchen, I approach the fruit bowl with the trepidation of a woman entering a dark room in a Hitchcock film. The fruit bowl, as anyone who has ever left their home for days at a time will know, is always the most violent crime scene of all. Mine is no exception. Two wrinkled apples, a kiwi fruit that has shed all its fur, a lemon so hard it could cause a concussion. I throw them away, realise there is no liner in the bin, fish them out again and put them back in the bowl. I feel like an actor in a very condensed piece of Fringe mime about the absurdity of life.
Everything feels strange, too peaceful. If I were an animal, I would rub myself up against a few soft furnishings. As it is, I pour a glass of wine and switch on the telly. Sometimes home isn’t where the heart is. It’s where it yearns to be.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east