Coming back to my home in the north of England has been an odd experience. I’ve been gone for more than 5 months. Although the house was familiar, it felt like someone else’s home. I went to make a cup of tea in my kitchen and stood there like a stranger, not knowing where anything was. My tired, jet-lagged brain couldn’t even remember which cupboard I kept the mugs in!
The quiet rooms smelled damp and musty - there’s a tidemark on the wall downstairs where the winter floods came in and a lot of mud and plant debris on the flag stones. Judging by the smell, a rodent seems to have died in some secret nook or crevice. Upstairs the rooms had a Marie Celeste feeling to them. A magazine lay open on a coffee table where I must have been reading it before we left in October. Gardening shoes had been kicked into a corner of the hall with their socks curled up beside them and there was a half drunk mug of coffee mouldering on the table. Someone else’s abandoned life I was walking back into. The feelings of disconnection were very disturbing. I am certainly not the same person who left last autumn. I’m seeing my life here from a different perspective and part of me is still in Italy.
This morning, waking in my own comfortable bed, looking out of the window at the early light on the river, it all feels better. I’ve actually managed to sort through the stacks of mail that were sitting, a foot deep, on the dining table. The sun is shining outside and the fields are full of baby lambs. Very different to the Italy I left yesterday, but pretty good all the same.