Twenty two. That’s how many homes I’ve had. Ten in my first eighteen years, twelve since then, since getting married.

(Yes, I was married at eighteen. That’s a whole other story. Another time, okay?)

This house that we live in now is our longest run in one house – five years. I can’t imagine ever moving house again. I’ve got too many books, for one thing. For another, I relish the feeling of roots it’s given me. It’s not good to grow up moving house every couple of years. Not that I minded it at the time, and I’m not exactly complaining now, just noticing that it’s not the most stable kind of childhood.

The house of my childhood that we lived in for longest (four years) was also my favourite. It was in the very depths of the country, completely isolated, far from town life. I felt safe and free there, like I never did in town. I wanted to show you pictures of it, but it’s boarded up, gates padlocked, village deserted. A huge oil refinery looms over it, and long after we’d left, they bought up the entire village and re-homed everyone at a safe distance. For a long time you couldn’t even really visit the area – security guards patrolled and cameras swivelled to watch you drive down the road. But when we went back there last week, not only had the security gone, but the refinery have paid for some prettying up of the area.

But the house is still locked up and likely to remain so. I peered through the gates, but everything was so overgrown and run-down that there really wasn’t much to see.

Oh well. I have my own little house in the country now. If I stay here long enough, maybe I can pretend that this has always been my home. It already feels that way. I like that feeling very much.

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