Dolly's Blog: Home
I moved into my first army quarter just before our eldest was born, bribing myself with a Smeg fridge to prove that, despite now having to live in an epicentre of tedium painted entirely in magnolia, I hadn’t lost my soul. Seventeen years and 9 house moves later, I’ve finally moved back to my home town and my grin can be seen from space.
“We’re not in a bad state” declared Mr D, as he surveyed the utter chaos of moving day. He always says this and it’s always utter chaos. This time I’d introduced a post it note system to identify what we were leaving behind. Mr D viewed this as ridiculous behaviour bordering on OCD. I knew I was right of course (but have to accept that my moral high ground was undermined when they kept falling off). I’d also worked out a sleeping strategy, having spent the first two nights of our last house move sleeping on the dog’s blanket, supplemented with a towel and dressing gown for added padding.
Our new house was going to be “a teddy free environment” according to Mr D. We were going full force Marie Kondo. But the task was Herculean because, despite moving every two years, the volume of accumulated s**t was really quite extraordinary. How do I own 49 champagne glasses with no recollection of buying any? Why do I have a large number of stones (the significance of which is long-forgotten) and a bottle of runner bean wine?
Competition for the oldest thing in our cupboards was intense, stand-out candidates including a tube of soft paraffin (purpose unknown) with an expiry date which preceded our marriage, several packs of polenta (best before 2016) harking back to my Deliciously Ella period, and a shoe mitt I’d brought home from a hotel. Why? And what even is a shoe mitt?
But some happy memories were also excavated, including a Mothers’ Day card from my daughter which touchingly read “Thanks for not inflicting any lasting psychological damage” (“It’s a bit early to tell isn’t it?” said my mother unhelpfully). Also a Fathers’ Day card thanking Mr D for “not wearing your pink trousers to school”.
It’s an inescapable fact that we haven’t been happy in our last house, which wasn’t a home so much as somewhere we lived whilst counting down the days until we could leave. We’d unpacked, put up pictures, at least this house wasn’t infested with mould, and none of the ceilings collapsed. But our hearts never lived in what I’d come to think of as a magnolia prison, marooned in a part of the world I would never have chosen to inhabit, our shoulders slumping and hearts sinking every time we returned. A home isn’t just a house, it’s how it makes you feel.
As my life was once again packed up around me, Good Riddance by Green Day played on the radio. “I hope you had the time of your life” they sung. My nose went a bit tingly because the past two years have been the opposite. For all sorts of reasons it’s been pretty awful. “But in the end it’s right” continued the song, as the sun streamed through the filthy windows we could never summon the enthusiasm to clean. And so it goes. We closed the door behind us and now I’ve come home.
After 19 years of fee earning, Dolly now works in a management role in a London law firm. Working four days a week she is supported by a wonderful (though often absent) husband as they attempt to bring up three children aged 16, 14, and 12. A lockdown puppy adds to the chaos but keeps her sane.