Five and a bit years ago I walked into a Victorian terraced cottage in Gammons Lane, Watford. It was being rented out and the current tenant was sat on the sofa playing xbox games and completely oblivious to this random person walking round. The rooms were cluttered, the garden a mess, the bathroom had mould.
Something about that house spoke to me. I could look past the neglect and see the potential to create a home. Which was why, a few weeks later, I took ownership of this little house and started breathing new life in to it. Damp problems were fixed, the kitchen replaced, rooms stripped back and redecorated. Plans were formed to spend the next decade replacing the bathroom, replacing windows and extending the attic space.
Gammons Lane, I decided, was the place I would call home for the rest of my life. I’d live there until it was time to die and I would make the best of my neighbours, the nearby high street and the small community tucked away at the end of the street. Many happy memories were centred around that small house. It was where my twins went when they needed to escape. It was where my new wife visited when we wanted time alone, or she wanted to flee the rented room where she lived.
How times change.
Today I said goodbye to this home. For the last time I closed and locked the front door. I pulled away from the kerb and watched that small street become smaller in the rear view mirror. It’s become someone else’s now. They will form their own memories, style it in the way that suits them and create whatever they call home.
As for me? I face a year or so of uncertainty and rootless wandering. I live in a rented flat near Watford town centre and one day next year I’ll move into a rented flat somewhere in Kobe. After that comes the home that I hope will be the one I spend the rest of my life in, forming memories with the woman I love and playing host to family and friends.
Although we’ve heard that story before.