Ladies and gentlemen – my 10 year old cousin, Dominique…
What does the cheese say to itself in the mirror?
Because HALLOUMI is a cheese. HALLOU and MI. D’you get it? Wait, I’ll get a pen and write it down for you.
This kid is my hero. I always thought I loved her like a daughter and now, having an *actual* daughter, I’m certain of it. Dominique was born when I was 16 and so she and I have been a constant in each others lives – a ‘have seen each other 3 times a week nearly every week for the last 10 years’ constant. She’s the youngest of 5, is chronically dyslexic and has Very Important Parents who separated when she was 4… she’s needed looking after. I worry about her all.the.time, apparently unnecessarily, it would seem. Dominique’s birthday is September 27th. The same date as the famous Macmillan Coffee Mornings. For her birthday, she is asking for donations to Macmillan. For her birthday. She’s TEN.
1am on a random Sunday morning. The best time to realise, yet again, why your best friend is who she is.
Me: Why are you up? Weirdo.
Anna: I had a nap earlier, fell asleep in the middle of The Book Thief.
Me: Hmm. Indicative of your opinion of it?
Anna: No, I do really like it so far but I went out for lunch so obviously needed a 2 hour nap to recover.
Anna: Why are YOU up?
Anna: That is so far from being asleep it is hilarious. That is not 1am behaviour.
Me: Maybe she had a nap earlier whilst reading The Book Thief and I didn’t notice.
Anna: Entirely possible. We held our monthly Book Club and she was unsure of the realism of Death as a narrator. It was an exhausting discussion.
In one day – nay, not even one day; merely 4 hours – I got to see Anna and her gorgeous home, hair and bump; I got to eat the most aaaaaaaaaaamazing tomato soup in the universe AND I got to see Baby K. I saw Baby K in all their insanely adorable glory and they waved at me. Well, I think they waved at Stella, actually. But whatevs. I’m claiming the wave. Can you even begin to imagine how excited I am, readers? I don’t think you can. I haven’t even got the energy to squeal anymore. Much.
We moved house. We did it. We’re all alive, we’ve let the cats out and they keep coming home, there’s a sh*t-hot Indian takeaway 5 minutes away and my commute will be halved. Get in. Except…. get out.
*Self-absorbed, navel-gazing, woe-is-me alert*
I really don’t like our new house. I can’t bring myself to call it home yet. I can’t see myself being able to call it home. I havee, however, moved forward from, ‘I hate our new house’, so, baby steps. On paper, it’s exactly what we wanted and need – 3 bedrooms, smaller garden, good location for schools, closer to my work, shops nearby, bla bla bla boring boring boring.
In reality, I WANT THE COTTAGE BACK. I miss my stream, my fireplaces, my pheasants and cows, my sash windows and wonky floors and high ceilings and and and… Just thinking about our old home makes me teary. I don’t just miss the physical, I miss the emotional. I miss the memories. And yes, I know the memories are in my head and in photos and videos but oh GOD. I miss looking at that corner of the living room where Stella’s moses basket was the morning the three of us came home from the hospital. I miss the bridge in the garden that I skipped across on our wedding day. I first made pear-upside-down cake with pears from our pear tree in our garden THAT’S NOT OUR GARDEN ANYMORE.
Damnit. Someone slap me. Not even Internet-figuratively. Someone please come to my horrible new house and literally slap me.
Phil is bored of this now. He’s trotted out the line, ‘Where Stella is, is our home now’, so many times that neither of us want to hear it again. I know that he’s right. Heaven knows I wouldn’t want to be anywhere in this world without her. I know that as we make new memories here I will fall more and more in like (love is just too ambitious right now…) with this house. Maybe when we wake to the first snow of my favourite season I will call this house our home. Maybe when we celebrate Stella Temperance’s 1st birthday? Maybe if and when we give that 3rd bedroom it’s own occupant?I don’t know. I’ll get there, I’m sure.
For now, though, Phil almost has it right. He just missed one thing. My home is where he and Stella are.