Wednesday, December 11, 2002

It is officially winter. The duvet has been released from its cramped confinement in a duffel bag under my bed, unfurled from its summer hibernation and draped across the bed to insulate my winter slumbers. It remains as yet uncovered, because wrestling with a king-sized duvet cover in the dark at midnight is not my idea of a good time.

Suddenly all is warm snugglies, with the squishy weight of feathers keeping us cozy. I find it much easier to sleep with the feeling of covers over me, so much so that even in an August heat wave in New Mexico I couldn't sleep without at least a sheet over me.

Tomorrow I'll be going home to an even heavier duvet, a super fluffy construction deep enough to get lost in, highly necessary in the drafty long nights of an Edinburgh winter. Besides which, it's excellent for hiding under and surprising people. Not to mention watching the cats wading across it, with their feet sinking in as though it were an indoor snowdrift.

Cats! I haven't seen my two furballs for a year and a half. I wonder if Inigo will remember me and fall back into the routine of dragging me off to bed at 11pm so that he has access to my room. I wonder if I'll smell like a stranger to them and get ignored. I realize they're they closest thing I have to children, not very close at all really, but I planned their existence and talked my parents into letting Annabelle have just one litter, I've known those two little animals since they were a couple of hours old. I can talk to my parents over the phone, and that compensates for the distance somewhat, but interaction with an animal is wordless, and you can't do that over the phone. Even if Fezzie's purr has occasionally carried down the wires.

Most things about "home" can be replaced or substituted in a new place, you can make your own home. Pick furniture, plan art projects to personalize the place, develop comfort food habits revolving around local specialties, find a new cafĂ© to inhabit…but it'll be home anew, nowhere can ever be the same as the first place you called home. Not even the original place itself.

I know that when I go back, there will be moments when I'm walking down a street and it could be any point in time since I first walked down it ten or even twenty years ago (though twenty years ago it would be more toddling than walking for me). More often than not I suspect I'll be noticing how different it is, how much more like I remember London being, all the hoards of thirteen year olds with mobile phones and the snazzy sandwich places having replaced the less cosmopolitan teenagers I remember, and the cheap little bakeries that used to sell wonderful greasy pasties and pies for the local workers' lunches.

My parents house will still be both cozy and drafty as hell, but now the kitchen's actually painted, and the shabby beige living room set got sent away and came back after some major reconstructive surgery as a lovely new three piece suite in a nice burnt orange color. Not a single cat claw mark anywhere on them! I'm not even sure if the cats have been allowed to sit on them yet.

I'm going back for a visit, this is the first time it's really been so clearly just for a visit, this is the first time it's going back to where I grew up, not going home. I suppose it isn't even my second home any more, it's "back home" and my flat in North Park (A Community Of San Diego) is "home". I'm making and finding my own traditions and habits, my own signals of the changing seasons. I still can't help hoping that some day I'll live in Edinburgh again, so I can share the things I remember with Matt, and discover together new things about that city, recreate home there for myself with a different perspective.

It may never happen, I won't be distraught if it doesn't, for now it's merely a pleasant idea. A way of keeping homeclose to my heart.

Home is... Cold air and warm sun shining through bare trees. Sparkling frost on the concrete sidewalks before it gets trampled and melted by passers-by. Gusts of cold rain thrashing through my hair as I trudge up Dundas Street towards my bus home, cursing the long skirt of my school uniform that offers no protection against being soaked to my skin. The dreamy near-silence of the summer air, in which everything seems to echo slightly, the sound of my Dad trimming trees, or a car door slamming on the street, that damn bird who's call sounds exactly like our phone, or maybe it is the phone this time. That spot on the edge of Brighton Park that alwayssmells of dog poop, and nobody's ever been able to figure out if it's dogs, or just a really stinky shrub…

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