This is home

The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
— Maya Angelou

This week, I started decorating. I've lived here for over nine months, putting up pictures and moving bookshelves. I gutted out the kitchen for five hours one Saturday, piling Mike's hoarded belongings in the hall so he could throw them out or justify their existence. I didn't win every battle; there are still 10 pairs of 3D glasses in the kitchen.

But this week, I wasn't just cleaning and rearranging. I stripped wallpaper, soaking a cloth in warm water and scraping off the tough patches. I haven't done that since my parents bought their first house together. We were moving from our boxy flat on the town high street up to an house with a proper garden and sunflower patterned 70s wallpaper. I spent evenings after school wielding a steamer until the place was liveable.

I was nine years old, and that was my fifth house.

Edinburgh airport welcome home

As I got older, the concept of 'settling' terrified me. I wanted to be able to pick up and leave whenever I wanted, and proved to myself I could; even when I lived in Perth for four years, I moved house three times. I was in a relationship where I didn't feel safe. "Home" wasn't a comforting place to me. My books went on shelves and clothes went in wardrobes. The walls stayed blank. In my second and last London house, I didn't even finish unpacking. I knew I'd be off again soon and I left for Scotland again after two months.

I didn't feel at home in my parents' house any more. My room in that ex-council house had been stripped of its Nirvana posters and painted. I knew which stair was creaky and where the cutlery was kept, but it was not home.

When the six year relationship that made me feel unsafe ended, there was a big gulf in front of me. My life had been planned out, and now there was no plan. Where would I go? They say home is other people, so I went to Aberdeen to be near my friends. I had already lived there twice before.

You all know the story now. Two months after I moved to Aberdeen, I went on a date with a ginger man. My life was spent on buses to and from his house further north in the country, until I moved in four months later.

Home has always been where my books are kept. The address my bank card is assigned to. At times, it's been a place that's made my stomach knot with fear. Now it is Mike and my cats and safety. For the first time in my life, I want to put down roots. I don't want my walls to be blank any more.