By the time I reached age 23, I’d lived in thirteen different houses, in three different cities. In their own way, each of them had been “home” to our family, even if some of them were just short term rentals while a new house was being built. We were all there, Mum and Dad and my sister – but still, none of these places was home for us for very long.
My own personal response to this as an adult, subconsciously at least, has been to stay put. When it was my choice about where to live, I stayed in one place for the next twenty-three years of my life, and having moved recently, intend staying in the place I live in now for just as long.
The day we brought our oldest son home from hospital as a newborn, the builders were plastering the renovation that had taken over a year to complete – our first builder had gone broke, and left us living in a construction site through much of the pregnancy. There we were, new parents with a tiny new born in a drafty half-built house in the depths of winter. But our sense of home was still so strong now we were “three”.
The events of the last few years have challenged the way we think about
home. So many people have had their dreams about a future of owning a home dashed in the financial crisis that started in the US in 2007 and reached around the world during 2008. Lost jobs, falling property values, mounting debts. Foreclosures, permanently stained credit ratings, unemployment.
Those close to or in retirement have had to rethink their plans, many continuing to work well into the time they thought they’d be living it up in the active phase of their retirement. For some, this has been a time to take opportunities to buy assets cheaply – especially houses. Houses that represent someone’s shattered dreams are someone else’s high yielding investment – after all, those people who’ve been foreclosed on by the banks and other lenders need to rent somewhere to live. And they’ll be doing it for the rest of their days.
As tough as those stories are from the western world, it’s also good to remember that for many in the world, home is a mud hut or a shack in a slum. For over 10 million refugees, home is a place they left behind and are yet to arrive at.
Cracks in the Ceiling is a collection of short stories I’ve written over the last couple of years, inspired by ordinary people who’ve had to cope with the situations they’ve found themselves in during these turbulent times – sometimes of their own making, sometimes not.
For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can buy a copy here.