Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Which town, city, and country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?
This is an easy one for me. I’ve lived in 5 different houses in my life: my parents’ house, which was originally a bungalow and later had a loft conversion; two student houses, during my time at university; and two apartments when I was living in Vietnam. I have never ‘moved’ house properly, because both at uni and in Vietnam I only packed enough stuff to fit in one suitcase. I picked up the rest of the things I needed while I was there, and left them behind when I left. When people ask me, I tell them I’ve lived in the same house for my entire life. It feels that way to me.
The loft conversion didn’t happen until I was in my mid to late teens, so at twelve I was sleeping downstairs in the second largest room in the house. My parents had the master bedroom next door, and my brother the smallest bedroom in the house. The building was very different back then. Later on, my brother’s bedroom would be demolished to expand the hallway and make room for some stairs; the master bedroom would become my brother’s room, and the second smallest in the house; my old bedroom would become the spare for guests; and two bedrooms would be built upstairs, one for my parents, the other for me.
It was a plain room. I’ve had posters on the walls of my room every now and then, but I never keep them there. It was a green room, painted by my mother. There was a life-sized, framed painting of Harry Potter on one wall. He was probably only supposed to be eleven or twelve in that picture. On another wall, there was a large cabinet filled with porcelain dolls, which had been collected for me by relatives. Strangely, they never frightened me. The fact that they were kept in the cabinet that I slept beneath at night was not a problem to me: I had become used to them at a young age.
The rest of the floorspace was taken up with toys and games. There was a lot of floorspace. When my cousins or friends came over, we would gather together to play in my room, because there would be room for all of us to sit down and join in.
Nobody was allowed into my parents’ room when I was young. The best room, the living room, was also off limits most of the time, because we were messy kids who tended to leave our toys behind instead of packing them away. That left us the kitchen, which was small, and another living area (the wall between these two rooms was later knocked down to create a larger kitchen and dining area), as well as the garden. The back garden was much larger back then. We had another field at the back of the garden, which we would play in when we had good weather; the village was quiet enough for us even to go out on the streets on our bicycles, providing someone was available to keep an eye on us.
England has always been home for me. Living anywhere else would feel like I was on holiday (Vietnam certainly felt like that). This is the only place I can truly imagine myself settling down, finding somewhere comfortable to live. Nevertheless, I have used up almost all of the time I can endure at my parents’ house. The place has changed and grown since I was twelve, but the time I spent living away from home has taught me that there is so much to enjoy about living on my own.