I’ve spent a lot of my life travelling and staying in places a long way from the UK. However, even when we have settled in other countries we always knew we would one day return to a situation that was more ‘home’ than the other ‘homes’ we have made over the years. The idea of leaving the UK and never being able to return is not one that I really relish. It’s even harder to imagine being forced to leave my home because of chaos being unleashed in my home country by a foreign power. When I read Riverbend’s latest post about being in just that situation, I had to fight back the tears. This is just one tragedy among so many in Iraq, but it is a reminder that these are real people, with real hopes and fears – though more fears than hopes at the moment.
The last few hours in the house were a blur. It was time to go and I went from room to room saying goodbye to everything. I said goodbye to my desk- the one I’d used all through high school and college. I said goodbye to the curtains and the bed and the couch. I said goodbye to the armchair E. and I broke when we were younger. I said goodbye to the big table over which we’d gathered for meals and to do homework. I said goodbye to the ghosts of the framed pictures that once hung on the walls, because the pictures have long since been taken down and stored away- but I knew just what hung where. I said goodbye to the silly board games we inevitably fought over- the Arabic Monopoly with the missing cards and money that no one had the heart to throw away.
I knew then as I know now that these were all just items- people are so much more important. Still, a house is like a museum in that it tells a certain history. You look at a cup or stuffed toy and a chapter of memories opens up before your very eyes. It suddenly hit me that I wanted to leave so much less than I thought I did.