Early 2016 my mother phoned me one morning, I was severely hung over and feeling sorry for myself; she told me that her and my dad planned on moving to Spain. I was almost hysterical. I never cry to my parents, for some reason not crying is a bit of an unwritten rule for myself, but suddenly I was devastated. Then she told me they were planning to take the cat with them. At this I lost it, it was the end of the world.”Smokey [cat] doesn’t speak Spanish, all the other cats will be mean to him, he’ll be eaten by mountain lions.” My poor heart couldn’t take it, but at the same time I knew it’d do them a world of good.
I wasn’t against the idea, it was just a lot to take in. The house in Essex is where I grew up, I have three brothers and a sister; it was – in true Miranda Lambert style – ‘the house that built me.’
This house shrouds my mind with memories, both wonderful and sad. As I lay in bed typing away on this post I reflect on as many memories my brain allows. Some of my favourites: being about eight years old sitting on my bed with a fake steering wheel pretending to drive a car, gathering all my teddies and becoming a school teacher, playing hide and seek with my cousins, pretending to be asleep when my friends came over so their parents would have no choice but to leave them here for the night, owning (and killing) my first plant; early morning wake-ups for holidays, being grounded and screaming I’m sorry until my parents couldn’t cope with my noise anymore; slipping notes under my brothers and sister’s door when they were grounded and I was free, coming home from nights out and trying to creep up the stairs without waking my parents and many many more wonderful memories. One of my favourite moments was the Queen’s Golden Jubilee – when we shut down the street and had an awesome street party, and every year we’d have bouncy castles for our birthdays – one year the parents kept trying to knock over the castle while we were all jumping and it burst… terrifying, but hilarious. And of course, this house, this wonderful house, is where my obsession with Harry Potter started.
I can remember once we were watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – I was kicked out of the living room as I wouldn’t stop reciting all the characters lines. So many times I acted out the Hermione troll scene from the first film in our bathroom – my parents must’ve found that incredibly weird – me hiding under a sink screaming at a troll. I also used to love using my blankets as a cloak, and old sticks as a wand.
Leaving this house is incredibly bittersweet, it’s so strange to think of another family living here. This house is ours, and it breaks my heart to think that I’ll no longer be able to return. Our garden is incredible, both my parents spent hours upon hours turning it into the blissful hideaway that it is now. (I can’t tell you the number of times we were on a beach, on a mountain or somewhere random having to carry pieces of slate, pretty rocks, crystals and more that we’d found just so mum could put them in the garden.) Our fishpond we dug, and it was a fantastic fantastic affair. It’s huge. All of us got involved, digging (and getting stuck in the hole), dragging wheelbarrows full of mud, clambering about with family, friends and neighbours creating our three level fish pond – that even has a little waterfall, and of course a glamorous rockery thanks to the rocks we’d gathered. Before we put the fish in we filled it with water and all had a swim in – we lined the edge of the pond with old railway sleepers, and one of our family friends gave us a wooden boat which we used as a smaller pond for a bit and then turned into a giant plant-pot. It’s going to be devastating saying goodbye to all of this.
The move has taken longer than expected, we’d initially planned to say goodbye in September – my sister married in the summer, so we had to host family from all over the world. Then as soon as they left the packing begun. Unfortunately my mum recently became quite ill, so instead of having Christmas in Spain we were fortunate that the buyers have allowed us to keep the house until February. Although I was terrified for my mum I was ecstatic that I’d get another Christmas here. Despite everything being empty, and only having camp chairs to sit on Christmas was wonderful. Mum was discharged from hospital a day before Christmas and I did the usual, ‘consume all food’ activity that left me feeling content, and sick. Not having furniture has proved interesting, but I’ve been using the old photo frame hooks as clothes hangers – who needs a wardrobe?!
This house is full of so many wonderful memories, and I’m terrified to say goodbye, but at least I have the wonderful memories to hold on to! And of course, the memories of this Christmas. People kept telling me to make new memories this Christmas, and I certainly did – as I lay screaming in pain on the driveway after stupidly slipping on the front doorstep on Christmas day – a painful, but hilarious memory.
Even now I’m irritating my dad by texting him from upstairs, as he moans about how many texts he’s getting. Ahhh number 10, you’ve been wonderful.