Working from home once seemed like a distant dream. Imagine, I would think, I could go to meetings without getting stuck in traffic jams. I could write reports in pyjamas. Pyjamas!
Like most dreams, once it’s achieved – or more accurately once it’s foisted upon you – it falls rather flat. Zoom gatherings (pyjamas just on the bottom half naturally), driving nowhere at all (thus avoiding any traffic), and then a surprising arrival in the form of lack of purpose. Turns out maybe I did enjoy the external working life after all. There’s really nothing like getting back home after a long day. Traipsing down the stairs to sit on a different seat is somehow not quite the same.
“Home is the most important place in the world” says IKEA (who should know) and I tend to agree. It’s a place of safety, shelter, comfort and filled with people and things you love.
Or it should be. I’m haunted by reports during last year outlining the rise in domestic abuse incidents with adults and children at risk trapped in their house. These places are not a home. There are wonderful organisations and individuals working around the clock to do what they can in these dire circumstances and I’m glad they’re there. I feel helpless.
What I can do, apart from give donations when possible, is find gratitude in this little terraced house I now call home. Yes it’s damp (the hall wall is mostly dispersed plaster on the stair carpet), yes it can be noisy (that’s terraced living for you), yes it’s small (I can sit at the kitchen table and reach out to the cutlery drawer without getting up) but it’s home. It’s cosy with a fire and candles lit, it’s got dark Edwardian green walls, it’s got a huge picture of Paris (ah Paris), it contains things I love (millions of books mostly), pictures from travelling days (remember those?), and of course a warm relationship with a lovely husband.
Being in lockdown with someone you love and respect, in a cute little house with an overgrown garden (and the all-important shed for writing and thinking) is a blessing. I am safe.
And if I find myself drifting from this gratitude I can simply click my red heels together (or my red DMs) and repeat with Dorothy: “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”