Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

As today is also the beginning of Story a Day’s challenge to write a story every day in May, I have decided to link this prompt to theirs, which is to write for 40 minutes.

Well, I confess, I’m somewhat surprised. I expected that today would be more about consolidating everything that I have written (and read!) over the past 4 weeks, which is why I chose not to write a thoughtful overview of the prompts in my free writing exercise yesterday. However, I’m sure that many people will be pleased that we are ending this with a positive prompt and a generous amount of time in which to complete it.

My experience with writing about myself is that I am never as interested in the stories as I am with fiction. I know about my life and find it fairly tedious, despite having done some exciting things in the past. I always find myself more caught up in dark tales of terror and personal struggles, and the exercises that I have done over the past four weeks have not managed to change my mind. There is much more to love in fantasy than in reality. Nevertheless, I will (reluctantly) keep this final post factual.

That is not to suggest that it will be an easy feat. When at first I read this challenge, I thought that I would have no choice but to fictionalise it. I had no idea what to write about. Unfortunately, there are very few things that I own that I feel especially attached to. I could easily replace my clothes and my shoes (all six of them – I have more sense than money) and I would not truly care, despite the few moans I would make about having to wear something different. There are no toys or souvenirs or relics that I hold dear enough to write about, either. No book or movie has captured my heart forever, because there is always another one that comes along to replace it. I have brief mini-obsessions rather than lifelong ones.

It was a thought process that I spent a long time on. What could I possibly write about? Furthermore, what on Earth is so precious to me that I would be able to write about it for a while forty minutes? When, at last, I came up with something, I still felt as though I needed some convincing.

Yet, whether I make this sound like the most wonderful thing in the world, or the most worthless treasure there has ever been, I can avoid the subject no longer. Time is catching up with me and I have done enough running already today (by which I mean I went on the treadmill at the gym). There are other things I must do before this evening, like eat curry and tidy up. Those things simply cannot wait any longer, especially the curry part.

So, here we go. My most prized possession, laid out for all of the world to see.

Stretching from one side of the shelf to the other, from A to Z and with each artist’s work in chronological order, there is nothing I wish to keep in good condition more than my CD collection. Piles of CDs that do not fit on the shelf are perched on top of one another, threatening to unbalance and crash to the floor when I rummage through them. There is never enough space for them; there are never enough of them for me to be satisfied.

These CDs are so precious that they are only removed from their places for one of two reasons: either, a new CD needs to be placed before them on the shelf; or I have bought myself a new laptop (soon! I whisper, grasping at my wallet with sweaty hands) and the songs need to be imported into my new music library. The latter may sound like a laborious task to some, but I enjoy going through each CD and each song again. It allows me to rediscover some of the songs that I have not listened to in a long time, and although there are no songs that take me “back” to some specific point in my history, it is interesting to see how my music tastes have developed over time.

Despite these CDs rarely seeing the light of day, it is extremely important to me that I own physical copies of them. I dislike downloading music online or on iPlayer (which I only use because it is preferable to Windows Media Player), because I cannot physically hold the CD in my hand or leaf through the booklet inside of the case if I only have a digital version of that album. It is not as special and I cannot have any sense of pride about owning that CD – digital copies are almost like not owning the album at all.

Additionally, to pay for something that I will only ever have a computerised copy of seems like an alarming waste of money. Yes, it is up there somewhere on an online account in my name, but it is still like owning nothing at all. How can people be satisfied with downloading music they love instead of paying for the physical CD? Or vinyl, if you’re into that, but I also dislike having to mess around taking it out of the case and physically changing it whenever I want to listen to another band or album. A music collection is not a thing to be gathered together and owned idly. It is something that should capture attention, and it cannot do anything of the sort if it is not there to be touched and handled and physically admired. It is so much more than music.

What perhaps it is most important for me to point out is that a music collection can never be complete. There is always new music to listen to and there is always something that I have never heard before, some classic song or album that I have somehow missed. My wishlist on Amazon is loaded with CDs that I have yearned to own for an age, and when Christmas or my birthday come around I wait with eager anticipation to see them vanished from the unpurchased section and enter the purchased instead. More CDs are frequently added to the list, so that to name every single CD I am after would take me an alarming amount of time.

As if the distressing matter of being unable to complete a collection is not bad enough, there are the discographys of the bands themselves. Will I ever have a complete set? There are the singles and the albums and the live albums and the best ofs – and that’s not to mention any DVDs that my favourite bands release. Why, I need the CD and the DVD to ensure that the collection is (temporarily) completed. How strange it is that some people see no need for the live version if they have the recorded version – oh, how I pity them, for they are missing out on so much!

Now I fear I must tread carefully. As I come to the end of my forty minutes, I happen to find myself struggling to complete this task. If this were a fantasy story or a horror story, I could have some grand finale with which to dazzle you (and myself), but these are CDs and, as much as I love them, inanimate objects. They speak so much, but they cannot always speak for themselves. What one person loves another may find horrendous, and while I am open to most forms of music I gravitate towards rock and metal and my CD collection reflects that: any other genres I will only listen to on YouTube or the radio, for they are not important enough for me to own those songs physically.

And in this, I believe I reflect well upon these past four weeks, because no matter how much or how often we write, our collection of stories and poems will never be complete. There are those of us who crave our physical notes and our copies of our work (I will use myself as an example of that), and those of us who will post them and leave them online. Truth be told, I may never read these posts of mine again, but there is something about having copies of them that gives me a positive sense of achievement.

Yes, this is over now, but like my desire for more CDs, it will not end here. There is much more to be written and so much more to be told. I look forward to reading what your muses create now that they have been stoked by a month of prompts and twists! Write on, my friends (and while you’re at it, you really should listen to some classic rock)!

If you have enjoyed Writing 101 and would like to continue writing every day, then sign up to Story a Day’s May challenge on their website.

Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go.

Warning: swearing

Or, basically, “just write whatever the fuck you want. It doesn’t matter. Honestly. Write about the mysteries of the universe. Write about why ponies make you cry. Write something about nothing and pretend it means everything.”

I do not like prompts that are not prompts. Some of you may claim that these free writing days allow you to open your mind to things that you have not previously considered writing about. There may be a general consensus that free writing is a good thing, but I do not wish to hear it. I want to write something with sustenance and meaning, not just whatever pops into the top of my brain after half an hour of staring at a blank screen thinking ‘how can I write about something without thinking about something to write about?’. That’s why I was hoping I would not have to do this again.

I will now finish the rest of my four hundred words in the following manner:

Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go. Only one more day to go.


Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

I hate it. They make me sit here for as long as they want and I hate it so much. I move, fidgeting, shifting myself to and fro on the step in the hope that one of them will notice me and take pity on me. It’s too quiet out here, but neither mum nor dad come to my rescue.

They don’t understand what it’s like to be me. I try, I really do. When Mrs Hawthorne gave me that grammar exercise earlier today, I really did try to do it, but nobody believes me. The tiny black ink was right there on the page in front of me; concentrating on it for long was impossible and before even I had known what was going on the paper was out of the window, as was most of me.

Mrs Hawthorne had dragged me back inside the classroom, shouting something that I didn’t truly hear. Something about danger and falling and being silly, all words that I’m used to hearing by now. As I had sat in the headteacher’s office listening to my punishment, I had blurted out things that had only got me into further trouble.

The problem is that I can’t help it, and nobody understands what it’s like.

So I sit on the step in front of my house, unable to keep still. Mum received a phone call from school, like normal, and she came to pick me up as quickly as she could get there. Even though she knows what’s wrong and that I can’t help acting in this way, she doesn’t always show it. She brought me home – scolding me for talking too much in the car – and made me sit on the step outside, because my parents believe that some regularity in my life will teach me not to do things. Maybe they’re right, or maybe they’re wrong.

I get excited when I spot a police car coming down the street – and as it gets closer and closer, I long to stand up on the step and crane my neck to see the people in uniform. Mum and dad are in the house, though, so I know better than to do that, and summon every bit of strength I have to stop myself. It isn’t easy: I don’t like to think about one thing for too long, because I quickly become bored.

The car stops outside Mrs Pauley’s house. She’s the woman who lives opposite us. She’s old and she has lots of sons. They come over sometimes and bring their children. I like to play with them, because Mrs Pauley’s grandchildren are fun. I liked her husband too, but he’s dead. Mum told me Mrs Pauley woke up one morning but Mr Pauley didn’t. I couldn’t do anything on the day that he didn’t wake up.

He used to have an ice cream truck. Mr Pauley was always nice to me and he always laughed when I ran to the front of the queue, even when other people were unhappy with me. Other people would tell mum and dad they needed to teach me some manners, and mum and dad would explain to them how special I am. Mr Pauley understood how special I am too, because one of his grandchildren is as special as me.

I watch the police officers get out of the car with a sense of disappointment. It would have been cool to see some flashing lights. Another car pulls up behind: I think that’s the man who owns the house. He doesn’t look very happy. I fidget again, moving along the step to get a better look inside of the window as the three of them enter Mrs Pauley’s house – without knocking.

People always tell me it’s rude when I enter rooms without knocking. I know it, I do, but sometimes I get so excited I can’t help it. I forget these things.

A creaking noise from behind me catches my attention, and I spin my head around in anticipation: mum comes out of the house, her arms crossed over her chest as she looks into Mrs Pauley’s house, too.

‘What’s going on, ma?’ I ask her.

‘I think Mrs Pauley is going to leave,’ she replies.

‘Leave? I don’t understand.’

Mum smiles. There’s a sad look in her eye, the same look she wore when the doctor first told her I was special.

‘She has to live somewhere else now. Don’t worry, she’ll be very happy.’

I look back at the window and see Mrs Pauley speaking with the police officers. She doesn’t look very happy – she might be crying, but she’s too far away for me to be sure. Mum places her hand on my shoulder and squeezes it gently.

‘Come inside.’

Mrs Pauley looks like she needs a hug, but the police officers are both big. I turn to mum.

‘Can I have an ice cream?’ I ask. Mum smiles again.

‘Okay – but just this once.’

Note: The boy in this story is supposed to have ADHD.

Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page

Today’s Prompt: We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

I won’t make this a long one. No point in blathering on, is there?

No point in much else, either.

Everyone has fears. I’ve always found it bizarre that people are afraid of the little things. Spiders, dogs, darkness. I can understand others to a point. Heights. Yeah I get it. Enclosed spaces. A bit weirder, but then I don’t like being close to people too much. Flying. Well, more like falling, I guess.

We all fall, don’t we? Hardly unusual.

But those things don’t seem to bother me. Pick up a spider and put it outside. Check. Help stray dogs. Check. Wander around in the darkness. Check. Climbing. Check. Working in small spaces. Check. Long plane journeys. That’s a big check.

No, those aren’t the things I worry about. They’re infrequent.

Everyday. That makes a difference.

So, what does make me anxious? Lots of things, if I’m honest. Speaking to a group of people in a formal environment. Informal is fine, but formal? People expect things of me then. Making a new post. Not all of the time, but on those days when the prompts just don’t go my way. Meeting new people. That’s a big one. Sometimes, just walking past people. Clients at work who say good morning. That makes me nervous. Doing new things. Oh, not all new things. No.

An adventure or two never hurt.

And therein lies the point. I’ve gone out on a whim and done things that loads of other people might never do. I’m not afraid to pack up my life and move it somewhere else. I’ll take on a new job. I’ll take on new challenges.

What I am afraid of is normality.

Day Sixteen: Third Time’s the Charm

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. This is fiction.

A smattering of buds covered the tree in my garden; the lovely pink blossoms swayed to and fro in the breeze. I had recently got over the end of a relationship and started to rebuild my life with my children, who had been wonderful to me throughout the winter months. During that time, I had found a part of myself that I had lost whilst in my relationship: a connection with my children and, furthermore, the ability to be happy on my own.

It was halfway through that spring, once the garden had started to come back to life, that I decided to sort through my old belongings. The things that I had shoved unceremoniously in the loft after my relationship had broken down; old items left to me by deceased family members that I had not had any place for; toys belonging to my children that I hoped they would one day pass onto theirs. I rummaged through piles of boxes almost as tall as myself, looking only to throw out anything that might bring back memories of a time when I was not myself.

Somewhere in the process of sorting and discarding, I found a photograph covered in a layer of dust. It came off under my fingers to reveal the bright, shining face of a much younger me, her hair tied back in the delightful pigtails I wore in my youth. Between her teeth were a set of enormous braces, almost too big for her face. I took it downstairs and put it on the mantelpiece, where a variety of others soon joined it. A selection of family members stared at me across the room, each of them sporting the same grin, a family trait with which I had been previously unfamiliar.

At first, I was unsure why I had bothered to bring them out of the loft. Most of the things that I had rummaged through had been discarded, especially anything that had reminded me of my ex. There was something comforting about seeing old photos of family members sitting in the room, although what it was I could not put my finger on. My children were eager to learn about all of the people in the pictures, some of whom I did not even know very well.

I knew stories about some of my grandparents and what they had done during the war, although I had long since believed parts of them were fabricated. The children listened to them as though there was nothing more fascinating, then went off to tell their friends of the bravery of their great grandparents.

The trees became greener; spring turned into summer, and the realisation dawned on me one weekend as I sat in the garden enjoying the warm weather. There, in my house, sat a row of photographs of happy family members, most of whom had lived and since passed on, and in their time on the planet they had achieved great things. They had lived and died, loved and lost, and sought and found. Just as I had suffered, they had suffered too.

And that is when I learnt a personal lesson that I hope my children will one day learn, too. It is not something that anyone can understand before they fully accept it. In this life, we all have our ups and downs. We win and we lose, but amidst the loss there is always something more to be found. Before me, people have had to pick themselves up off the floor, and after I’m gone the next generation will have to do the same.

Whatever happens, we will find a way. However down we are, no misery will last forever. Even when we are at our most vulnerable, when we feel as though we have lost everything, in time we will find ourselves again.

My mother did, as did her mother. My father did, and his father, too. And my mother’s father; and my father’s mother, and so on.

That was a year of changes in my life. From then on, I have lived it only for me.

Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You

Today’s Prompt: Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

How does that make you feel?

How disappointing! Must I resort to sounding selfish in this post?

The greatest band I have ever seen was Motorhead. I was at a festival, although I do not remember which one, and I spent the whole set just staring up at Lemmy. In those moments, I understood everything. I understood why people are in awe of him. I understood why women flock to him, despite his less than handsome (sorry!) appearance. I wanted the music to go on forever. I had no concept of time. There was only Lemmy.

The best party I have ever attended was a ‘surprise’ party. It was about a week before I left for Vietnam and the surprise was actually on the guests – only my mum, my dad, my brother and myself knew what it was really for. We invited my aunts and uncles, my grandparents and my cousins and pretended to be throwing a surprise birthday party for my dad, who conveniently went out for the day. When my dad came home, everyone jumped out and shouted surprise – at which point I announced to the bemused party guests that, actually, my dad had known about the party all along and I was going to leave for Vietnam. My favourite part about the whole thing was that my grandma, who has selective hearing, paid no attention to my announcement. As she knows nothing about Vietnam besides the Vietnam War, when I repeated myself she went white as a sheet and asked me if I was joking. Nobody will ever trust us to throw a surprise party again.

There were celebrations in Vietnam, too. For Tet Festival (Lunar New Year), the company I worked for held a fancy dinner, mostly to impress the shareholders. There was traditional food and a dance involving two dragons and a guy dressed as Buddha that went on for entirely too long for me to concentrate. It was a nice way for the company to show that they appreciated us, although I would have been fine without the long speeches.


The problem I have with this prompt is that these things are very much a part of my past. I don’t attend gigs or festivals these days and it doesn’t bother me at all. Motorhead will not continue to produce music forever and with Lemmy’s recent health issues there’s not a great deal more to say on the issue. My life would not be over if my family had a massive fall out and we never met up again, because family is not the be all and end all. I made the choice to leave Vietnam because it was my time to go and I won’t be going back in a professional role. If I never get to go back again, I will not despair.

To put it simply: if music festivals were cancelled forever, nothing within my life would change. My life would change more if my family fell apart, but I have always prided myself on my independence. If we never held another family party again, then nothing about that would bother me. As for the company I worked for in Vietnam? I’d like to see you try to find a more evil corporate force.

Day Fourteen: To Whom It May Concern

Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.

The word I have chosen is ‘young’.

To myself (aged sixty),

Congratulations! I’ve reached a good age. Whatever I’m doing, wherever I am and however my life has turned out, I hope I’m in good health and good spirits.

I could ask any number of questions, but I won’t. I could make myself think about so many things, or conjure up so many memories of my life, but I won’t. There’s only one request I have. It’s something I noticed about people years ago, and it bugs me like mad.

It’s called “the good old days”. You know, those days when the sun never stopped shining, when everyone was friendly to everyone else and society was just perfect? Oh, those days when everything was brilliant! Well, I’ve got some news. Those days are fictional.

The most important thing I want myself to remember when I’m older, is that fantasising about my youth is wrong. There have always been things that are wrong, things that have not worked in society. Don’t get caught up in the nonsense of returning to a better time – because the world was dark when I was young, too.

Much love,

Laura (aged twenty three)

Day Thirteen: Serially Found

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

This is part 2 of 3. Part 1, An Autumn of Loss, can be found here. This story is fictional.

The snow had been settled on the ground for at least a week. It was a bleak winter, and it matched my mood: after a bad breakup in the autumn, I was still struggling to keep myself on my feet. I was a single mother again, and despite putting on a brave face for my kids, I was breaking apart inside.

That was, until one morning, when something within me changed. At first, I did not recognise what had happened: I made breakfast, sent the kids off to school and went to work without noticing that there was anything different about me. After all, every day was beginning to blend into the next by that point. Then the snow arrived and winter made its presence known; as the weather gradually worsened, the kids got time off school and I was advised to say home from work. By then, I had already started to overcome the autumn of loss. The rest of the work would be done by my kids and the kind of warm isolation that only winter can provide.

We stayed up at night watching television and playing board games. My oldest child decided to take up cooking several times a week and introduced us to a variety of new meals I had never tried before. I learnt more about their friends, become more involved in their hobbies, and we grew closer as a family.

That was when I realised that I had lost a significant number of things well before the autumn. I had never even realised that they had been missing, consumed by my relationship as I was. At some point within that relationship, I had lost the bonds I shared with my kids. I had missed out on some of their youth while I had been yearning to distract me from my sadness with a man rather than with personal fulfilment. I had become less of a mother figure to the children in that time; that winter, I discovered how much there was to regret about my selfish actions.

My kids, though, being the wonderful people they are, did not point out my flaws. They beamed with delight at my recovering involvement in their lives without mentioning my previous errors. I discovered more about myself, pushing myself to become a better parent, and in turn I was rewarded with the joys that only loving children can provide.

Yes, they argue occasionally, they get into trouble at school and they do not always behave as I would like them to, but nothing can destroy what we found in that winter, when we were stuck in the house, surrounded by the snow.

I found that romance does not promise happiness, no matter how desperately we seek it out, and that until we can realise that as individuals, we will never truly be able to love ourselves.

That was my winter of revelations. I discovered more about myself than I had ever known before. As the snow began to melt away, I wondered what spring might bring.

Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon

Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

Yes, this is based on a real world conversation, but it’s all fiction.

I do not consider myself a nosey person. I do not like to gossip or listen to other people’s conversations, because those things normally spiral out of control. People can easily become hurt by idle words. Keeping my distance like this usually means that I miss out on some social events and struggle to form strong relationships with groups of people: to put it simply, talking is not my strong point. If I had to make a vow of silence for the rest of my life, it would not be a problem.

Yet, sometimes, and for reasons that are beyond me, people at work still like to gossip to me.

“You don’t want to work near her,” my colleagues tell me, referring to a woman who has recently begin working on our department. She used to work in the same building, though in another department, and some of them have worked with her before. “She’s a terrible worker.”

I decide to ignore them. The new woman turns up and we speak occasionally, although it’s little more than saying hello and goodbye whenever we walk past one another. She leaves work an hour before I finish, so after she’s gone my other co-workers are running up and down the stairs, fishing for anything I’m willing to tell them. I keep my mouth shut as often as I can manage, but sometimes there are things that get on my nerves. In those moments, I cannot control myself.

The word gets out there, of course. It happened a lot during my years at school, and although I believe I’ve learned a lot from that time, apparently it’s not enough. Instead of allowing my frustration to build up, I vent to someone I believe I can trust. It does not take a long time for things to go wrong.

A few days later, I’m back at work, but there’s a nasty feeling in the air. When I head up to my department, the new co-worker glares at me bitterly. She does not say hello, and I know that the word has got back to her. Despite the fact that everyone else gossiped to me too, nobody greets me with a friendly face. I am shunned and I hide away like I did when I was younger, ashamed to show myself for fear of discovering the others whispering about me.

Why it’s so different when I complain, I cannot say. My control over the situation is gone, and idle words have forced me to keep my distance anyway.

Day Eleven: Size Matters (In sentences, that is.)

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.