Home is where the heart is, that´s what they say. But what exactly does that mean?
A few days before my present home will be torn apart and broken up I have this weird nesting feeling. I want to enjoy these last few weeks in my little home before I have the task of making a home somewhere else. When I look at the larger items I think, well yes I know that some big strong men are going to come and take them away or we will sell them ……. but it is the endless amount of little things that are stressing me out.
I do not see myself as any kind of domestic goddess or material girl obsessed with possessions but I do know how to put my stamp on a home and make it cosy and personal. Now that I am looking around my present home and imagining that in a matter of days all this will be gone: sold, given away or heading on a truck to Puerto Barrios to cross the Caribbean and meet with the famous Cuban customs, it moved me to reflect on the many moves and homes of my life.
So here is the list of my many homes:
North Yorkshire England 11 Years, Co Durham England 7 years, Newcastle-upon-Tyne England 6 months, Dormagen West Germany 6 months, Nottingham England 3 years, South London 6 months, Rambouillet France 6 months, Paris France 2 years, Wissant France 1 year, West London 3 years, The Peak Hong Kong 1 year, East London 5 years, Antigua Guatemala 4 months, Buenos Aires 1 month (short but it felt like home!), San Lucas Guatemala 1 year, Antigua Guatemala 1 year, San Pedro El Alto Guatemala 5 years …………and now La Habana Cuba 4 years and then who knows ……. because we don´t.
So I have been in my present home 5 years, quite a chunk of my life and lasting early memories for my boys. Two out of my three children learned to walk here. All 3 of them learned to talk here. One of our cats was born here. I went to 5 Icaro film festivals whilst living here and twice to Guadalajara festival. We had visitors from all over the world sleeping in our little guest room. We had a few good parties in the garden, some planned some not! I grew a lot of flowers and herbs. We had too many piñatas!! I painted walls and tables. Threw together quite a few meals in my tiny kitchen. Designed my own furniture and had some made. We lit fires and sat by the fireplace many nights. Paulo lost 3 of his teeth here. Saskia was conceived here. We all survived Agatha the storm and a whole load of other stuff ……..
So what does it really mean to be a homemaker? For a lot of us women it sounds like a nasty 50s concept of being a wife but to me it means something more. For me it is how you make your home feel, as though it has a heart and soul. A place people want to come round to see you. Primarily, a place where your family can be safe and happy and together.
We had a message last week that Cuba will not let us move our things to Cuba. I spent 24 hours horrified that I would have to sell all my precious and personal things and arrive in Cuba with a couple of suitcases and 3 kids. Was I a material girl or a sentimental nomad clinging on to my possessions like an orphan?
If Cuba possessed Ikea, ToyRUs, Ebay and the packa it could be possible to tell the children wave goodbye to your bicycles, your strange items of artwork, your favourite toys but alas Cuba is not a place you go to buy stuff and whatever stuff you do find it does not come cheap. Right now this family does not own a property anywhere in the world and soon, for a few weeks, we truly will be homeless all 5 of us. but we don´t have much! Which means that what we do have means a lot to us.
Was I being a material girl? I felt like a princess insisting on moving my caravan of possessions! What about the Lego, the wooden train set brought down from New York in the suitcase of a noble friend, all my pictures and photos? The second hand books bought and trafficked back to Guate in my suitcase. My sofa from San Juan that I designed with all my love, imagining the hours I would spend on it with my children. The salvaged old cupboard in the living room that Rafa rescued. Our old door coffee table that has seen many spillages and naughty boys climbing all over it. Our incredibly comfortable bed that we love to come home to. Saskia´s cot that has been in Rafa´s family for decades used by all my children. The boys matching blue wooden beds given to them by their abuelos and Tia Maria Luisa, lovingly restored and painted ………….
Maybe I am a bit of material girl but my beautiful things are not worth a great deal of money to anyone else but us, and they all have their stories. As the song goes ……… these are a few of my favourite things. I am not willing to lose or leave them in a warehouse to rot or be forgotten in a country where we do not live anymore.
Rafa is not a man who enjoys consuming, he prides himself on his lack of possessions. I was a little nervous that he would make me feel un-buddhist but now the father and the husband knows his family needs their things to feel at home.
So we have decided to take our stuff, the things we need or love and see what trials and tribulations we will have to go through to get them into Cuba. One option we have been told is to file much of the children´s toys and clothes as future donations – fantastic I said. This I am more than happy to do, its what I do anyway. When we leave Cuba in 4 years the children will be older and we can shed quite happily all the stuff they have grown out of.
Anyway, we are still waiting to see if we will get permission to enter Cuba with our things if not we are stuck with the lottery of customs and keeping our fingers crossed that we get a nice one on a good day. Otherwise we may end of very out of pocket.
But please Cuba, we are not flash or ostentatious capitalists just a very normal (??) family of 5. And Cubans, I would love to invite you round to sit on my beloved sofa and have a cup of my English tea in one of my English china mugs given to me by my Aunt. I will even bake you a Victoria sponge with jam and cream in my cake tin bought in Guate. I promise …..
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