Square One, Plus Two
So home right now is where I grew up, actually. I haven't lived here for over ten years. And Finn and Clara have never lived here. But this is where I spent a very happy childhood and (not as happy) teenage years. I'll be honest, when I left aged eighteen to head down to Cornwall I was more than ready. And it wasn't that I wanted to experience the alluring bright city lights of so many students hang outs, I just needed to get out of my hometown. Like so many other teenagers. It was time to spread my wings, see some more of the world (vicariously, admittedly, through the bubble that is university life), and meet people who didn't know me, or my siblings, or parents. Going to uni was glorious, and I was determined to never find myself at home, or even near home, again. Obviously that thought has evolved somewhat over the years.
But to take us all back to 2006, I'll be honest, I ended up in Falmouth for two awful(ly funny) reasons.
Firstly, it was the furthest geographically I could get away from "home" without crossing a country border. As it turns out, it was also the most plain awkward place to get to and from. It was a journey that required several trains and a full day of my life. As my mother once pointed out I could have flown to New York in less time (and probably for a similar cost). So no popping home to get my washing done.
And secondly, the prospectus had some really cute guys surfing in it. And for seventeen year old me, that was enough to secure my application.
That's not quite the whole story though because I did also totally bugger up my A-Levels taking home a fairly miserable A, C and D, and Bristol (my first choice) refused to take me. So there was that ultimate deciding factor too. Taking a year out wasn't an option. It would have meant a year of hanging around whilst all my friends enjoyed the obvious thrills of fresher life. I didn't know what I wanted to do either. A year of "finding myself" would have found me just as confused and frustrated. Probably. And apart from avoiding where seemingly all private school kids end up, or London, I wasn't especially bothered about which uni I went to. For whatever reason (desperation to fill a new campus), Exeter accepted me on the proviso I studied at their campus near Falmouth in Cornwall. Long story short, off I trotted to Falmouth, delighted by the West Country lilt and a generous offering of pasty shops on the high street. By the time I graduated three years later I'd changed course a few times (I did say I didn't know what I wanted to do). And, on reflection, I was always studying the entirely wrong subject area. But I was somewhat limited by my poor grades at A-Level, and frankly, my poor choice of which A-Level subjects to even take in the first place. So that's why, intriguingly, I am the proud owner of a Bachelor Degree in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics. I know. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. But there you go. If you ever find yourself at one of those desperately awkward ice-breaker events and one of the questions is to find the person with the most unlikely career progression, just come and find me. Also, just in case you're at all curious, those cute surfer boys in the prospectus? Never materialised. The PPI equivalent of higher education marketing, and arguably costing me considerably more over a three year period of investment / twenty-five year period of payback.
And so here I am. Twelve years later. Back to square one. Currently living with my parents, with no intention to stray particularly far away. Twelve years, two children and countless house moves / long journeys / timezones later and I'm firmly rerooting in the one place I swore I'd never come back to. Oh life. How you test me sometimes. But as it turns out I needed to see more of the world to realise where my world is. And it's right here. Back in the old stomping ground. There is a teenage me scraping her jaw off the floor at this revelation. Even the Scouse accent is entirely endearing now. Which is probably convenient because realistically Finn and Clara are going to have a touch of it. Just to add to the strange Birmingham / Devon / Singapore (with a hint of Ireland, South Africa, Canada, Australia and America) mash up they're currently enunciating with. So you know, what's another strong accent when you're already a walking talking atlas of places you've lived and people you love? Maybe their nomadic early childhood has been the major draw back to familiarity? I don't know. It's almost certainly a factor though. I used to call them (in an endearing way) my little pair of weeds. They're just so naturally brilliant at rooting in whatever place they find themselves. From a new home, to a new school, to a whole new country and culture. They bed themselves down whilst continuously growing. But you know something else about weeds - and I won't take credit for this, it's something my mum says - weeds are just flowers in the wrong place. And maybe that's just it. We all needed to be somewhere we could bloom without being dug up or pulled out every year. In other circumstances Singapore may have been that place. But for us, this time, it wasn't. So for now we're in a place I call home, root building under the surface, and being supported through a period of growth on top. Even teenage me with her eyebrow raising approach to selecting a university could very much understand that metaphor.