... that my mother and I moved into the only home I've ever known. With a little help from her parents, she scraped together the cash to buy this house outright and cleaned herself out in the process. I was not yet four years old, but I remember the gravel driveway (long since paved) and the bomb site of a back yard that, with years of hard work, love and attention, eventually became the beautiful garden I can see through the window of what is now my office.
I have a lifetime's worth of memories of this place, and all the things my family did within its walls. Now, despite all the changes I've made to turn it into a safe and comfortable place for me to be on my own, it will never feel like home again. Although 'these walls that still surround me, still contain the same old me', the weight of nostalgia and my apparent inability to reconcile the past with the present mean I can't get away from here fast enough.
They, whoever they are, say 'you can't go home again' and they're right. It'll take me at least another year and a half to master the skills I need to live independently but, after that, the sooner this place is sold and bulldozed, the happier I will be. Then I'll have no option but to go forth into the world, create a new self and some new experiences. Dwelling on the old ones has really brought me down, and I don't want to feel that way.
If my grand UK escape doesn't work out for whatever reason, I may well return to Australia and build somewhere new (and more accessible) from scratch. New starts can happen anywhere, although remaining Down Under is not my preferred option. I now have the freedom and the resources to chase my dreams without feeling as though I've let Mum down or betrayed her by wanting to be somewhere so far away. She is now further away from me than it's possible for anyone to be, and I often picture her looking down at me with hands on hips and her face set in its habitual 'I've just stepped in dog shit' expression, demanding to know what I've done to her living and dining rooms, why I no longer sleep in my old bedroom and who all these strange women are who turn up every few weeks to keep her little boy company. So it goes.