When I was a little girl, I’d always fantasise about going to the fair
Every time I was there, it felt like I was returning home again
I’d eagerly await to go on the pretty carousel, so I could feel the wind in my hair,
Blowing away the fears of the future, and the pain from the past, or even the present for that matter
Then there was the candyfloss, which was my favourite sickeningly sweet treat of all time back then
It tasted like childhood, freedom, innocence, and pleasure, all rolled into one
Except my Mum, and my grandparents never wanted me to eat it, because it’s no good for me
And they wanted to keep me grounded, away from all of my fantasies
In case I got carried away with myself, and accidentally let loose to other people that my dad was actually the devil in disguise
Don’t we all just wish our lives were like those in fairy tales, and our wildest dreams?
Something that always brought me back down to reality with a thump was seeing the haunted house, looming threateningly, and dangerously in the distance. The air around it seemed grey, foggy almost, and that was unsettling to me, because surely that meant it should be avoided at all costs, right?
It reminded me way too much of my home situation back then, as that’s where my father’s darkest demons would come out to play, late at night, when nobody except my mother and I was around in the flat
I’d have visions of him being in that haunted house, terrorising children, and teens when he was drunk, cackling away at the fact that he could intimidate them
They would all get sucked into the thrill of it, and laugh away, whilst secretly shivering in their seats
But little do they know, he didn’t need a mask; my father was already intimidating enough without one
Thankfully, bright lights allowed me to remain the carefree child that I should have been all the time, taking me off into another world, one where only the most enchanting fairies, and the most captivating unicorns existed
Loud music sends shivers down my spine, and through my entire body, forcing me to forget my fears, and live within the moment, because that’s all that is meant to matter when you’re merely 6 years old
Where’s the magician? He should be around here somewhere,
Maybe he can help the past vanish from my mind, and my memory
I can build a proper home within this fairground, and ride every rollercoaster a thousand times over
Letting go of all the hurt, and all of the uncertainty
I will allow the Ferris wheel to lift me up high, and keep me there, so I can have a few moments of normality, away from the chaos, so for once, I know I am better than, and above all of that
Yet, my home is only temporary, as it only ever comes to town for a few weeks at a time
This is simply all a fantasy, a figment of my imagination, and nothing more
At 6 years old, I couldn’t possibly escape the chaos for more than a couple of hours a day
No matter how much I knew in my heart that I wanted to stay
I had to wave goodbye to any hope of happiness, and say hello to the haunted house, once again when all of the magical lights had gone out.
I never really imagined I’d become as nostalgic for my teenage bedroom as I did. When I moved to uni, I was ready to leave behind any bad memories I had associated with it. To begin with, I forgot how special the space had been to me. It informed my teenage experience, shaped me as much as I shaped it, and reflected my growth. I had been at uni for a couple of months when my mum rang me to tell me that my bedroom was being redecorated.
I knew that moving away meant a new beginning. My teenage bedroom would no longer be a reflection of me when I moved home. University was a clean slate, or, in this case, a clean poster-free bedroom wall. My room had been my world as a teenager. It was where I stayed up too late for a school night, writing, crying over my first crushes and listening, almost exclusively, to Morrissey. It was the room where I’d formed all my dreams, ideas and theories about how my life would pan out. The room itself became an outward expression of all this; morphed into a weird coglomeration of collaged walls, Morrissey shrines and growing stacks of fashion magazines. Seriously, my parents told me more than once that they were worried my ceiling would fall in and whoever was sitting downstairs would meet their end beneath a pile of Vogues. (I thought that sounded like quite a glamorous way to go.)
I often felt selective about who I would let into my room. My melodramatic teenage self-imagined that my room had become a Wildean reflection of my soul itself. It was bursting with all the passions that I spent some time trying to repress in the hallways of my boring grammar school, where academic success was valued much more highly than expressions of creativity. I remember seeing my room as a sanctuary from all that. My room tended to be most chaotic when my mind was. It was in that room that I first encountered depression, hence the repetitive Morrissey listening, and my bedroom was comforting in this time. Having my idols plastered all over my walls and piled up in my magazines made me feel less alone.
It was not only my own room that interested me. I became fascinated with looking at other people’s bookshelves, CD collections, posters when they invited me round. I embellished all of this with some deeper significance, judging people on these superficial criteria. The importance I placed on this meant that I never viewed changing my room around as a waste of time. Inspired by Tavi Gevinson and other teen bloggers at the time, I saw working on my room as a deeply creative task. Most alterations would inevitably be posted on my blog. My room was like my journal, with less self-absorbed whining and random lists. In one corner, I drew a heart and wrote “The Smiths” inside it with a black Sharpie. I covered this up with another poster. I sometimes felt bad about defacing my room so much. Whenever a picture fell from the wall, it left very visible marks where the paint had come off. So, another picture would replace it.
When the time came for me to move to university, I felt ready to leave my teenage bedroom behind. I had stopped redecorating with such fervor and some of the references had begun to feel alien to me, as though they were only relevant in a past life. It needed updating as new people began to influence me. When my mum told me she was redecorating, I felt a dull ache of nostalgia, but I knew it was time to let go. I certainly felt that that room made me more me. I doubt I will ever inhabit a space quite like it again. Without that room, all its mess, obsessions and endless books and magazines, I’m not sure I would be the same person today. Our experiences as teenagers play a large role in defining who we become, and, for me, my bedroom was part of that too.
There is a reason I say nothing,
why I walk on raised toes,
pull up on the door handle to hide the whisper of the carpet,
lean but never leave my room, listening
listening to the rain
listening to the final wave of the storm,
as if silence is shelter
but down there it pours.
I am trying to hear their words
but the static in my stomach
as all the nerves come to ends, signals send,
my head is hot, blood too loud
to make out any sounds but I know the shape their faces will have fallen into,
so I stand down and retreat off toes and back, close the door
still feeling them pour but no longer listening, hear the bursting again
in the evening,
addicting, the outer ring of conflict,
I know why wars were raged by old men in office buildings before we had TVs,
can’t hear, can’t see, but the feeling,
sense without senses,
the amniotic tranquillity of understanding perfectly,
I’m indoors during a thunderstorm,
in awe of the tension release, listening but I can’t hear them,
I think they call it chrysalism.
Words : Lucy Harbron
Photo : Elizabeth Corrall
too many dark days
and not enough sunlight
it really is grim up North
My darling years
filled with cherry wine
and not enough sleep
I’m saddened to inform you that
my time here has come to an end
for now, is my independence day
and I am longing for a place
to call my own
but where exactly is my home?
where I belong
or where I was born?
Words : Rachelle Cox
Photos : Jakob Grant
I wondered what had toppled
that torso of sturdy oak,
crippled, hollow, beneath
a frosted cape of white,
recalled how high those
branches stretched, to sky,
to cloud, far from from
the humble earth beneath;
I was younger than the settling snow,
and thought things went forever.
Traipsing on, I conjured scenes
that showed it, mighty, felled
by a tempest’s wailing screams
of lightning, spark and smoke,
yet I knew the death was
thick and slow, a fog
that robs the night;
I wallowed in my memories,
the crooked bough that
snaked and weaved,
it seemed impossible to fold.
I thought of it rotting, steady,
pulling roots failing to hold,
in the saddest of my visions
as my skin crawled with the cold.
When love is sleeping in the next room
and you’re bright clean in the bathroom
holding candles facing corners
where the life you’ll never live again lives
because the moment of introduction
was the most beautiful cataclysmic
thousand year ice-age erasing meteor
volcanic eruption and fire raw
ripped holes in the atmosphere
rumours and old wives tales
of a life before my love
quiet moments making noises
whispering of marriage
whatever past has happened
I’ll let it die in Paris
Words : Lucas Jones
Photo : Mees Peijnenburg
Stand By Me : Ben E. King
(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano : Sampha
Sunday Morning : The Velvet Underground & Nico
This Must Be The Place : Talking Heads
When You Were Young : The Killers
Young Folks : Peter Bjorn and John
Two Fingers : Jake Bugg
Sunrise : Norah Jones
505 : Arctic Monkeys
Tyrants : Catfish and the Bottlemen
Strangeness And Charm : Florence + The Machine
Don’t Look Back Into The Sun : The Libertines
Twenty Nothing : Spector
Happy Faces : The Maccabees
Babylon : David Gray
Landline : Oberhofer
Nights In White Satin : The Moody Blues
Hometown Glory : Adele
Heartlines : Florence + The Machine
Love : Lana Del Rey
Only Ones Who Know : Arctic Monkeys
Life On Mars? : David Bowie
Astral Weeks : Van Morrison
Strangers In The Night : Frank Sinatra
With this issue Home, I have tried to pick songs that for me, encapsulate some of the ideas around home, and of what home really means. Your teenage years, moving into your twenties, really are the most transitional years of your life: relationships, careers, where you live, who you live with – all of which can change quite sporadically. To pin point a specific place that you call “home” is so difficult at this age, as it means such a multitude of things.
Home is where your family are
is where your friends are, with your support network, and where your go-to girl gang are
is in your lovers arms
is a memory, a place to return to when you’ve lost your way and need to find yourself again
is diving headfirst into passion
is where you make your first cup of tea in the morning
is where you laugh and where you cry
is where the heart is.
We pricked our fat, pink fingers, bonded by blood. Still,
I search for signs of sisterhood, for
white-line ladies who white lie like I. Who grew tired of
waiting to shrink away again, who sink in
girlhood’s shallow end, who learned so early to pretend
they cannot tell where they begin and their illusions swallow them.
I called my body too many names for ugly and
now it doesn’t trust me.
We were not meant to be this thin, this small,
this hateful towards all that we are, to see
ourselves disjointed parts, hatchling hearts that beat
too fast to last.
We were not meant to brick ourselves away, make
homes of bathroom stalls and pray the hunger wouldn’t stay,
not meant to crave that empty ache, to fake
dirty dishes and skip lunches and perform punishment crunches,
pretend to love this cycle of restriction and denial, to
face the scale like a trial, to grow familiar with the taste of bile and
the feeling of knees upon cold tiles, the cavitied smiles, the rotting teeth,
the relief of loosening jeans.
My hair fell out and my legs turned blue,
veins shining through.
How to love a home that can no longer sustain you.
Home is tricky, made out to be so soft and simple by cliché sayings printed on placemats or recited when no other advice comes. But where am I when I say I’m home, where do I travel back to or run from? Is home a synonym for house? Family? Building? Skin? Love? Belonging? Or a place to leave?
I hear it said often that ‘our homes are under threat’, struggling under the pressure of fear and politics rattling around a dinner table. But can that even be true, if you decided where to call home can it ever be threatened, they say no one can take a feeling away from you and maybe home is just a sense.
In the past two years I have moved many times, but I have lived in the same childhood home since I was one. I have heard myself say ‘I feel at home’ five times, two rooms, two people, one city. I’ve spent hours on end trying to decide whether I have ever felt at home in my skin, taught to believe that home is always comfort, love, and an overwhelming sense of being okay. But to much avail, the feeling of home is fleeting, it passes in moments of lighting a candle, seeing a smile, crossing a road, looking in a mirror some days. If it passes so quick, how am I to settle?
In this issue, we explore where home is and isn’t, what shape it takes, leaving, going and more. The ambiguous meaning of a word we may struggle to define but we all seem to be within. And we allow this work to find a home here.