going back to your old student flat
Years after you lived there
How it is clearly the same location
And that old iron stain is still on the carpet
(They did lie about replacing that)
But it’s soul is gone
The gig posters ripped down
And your carefully curated bottle collection nowhere to be seen.
It’s not home anymore
It’s just a dead body
And you are the ghost seeing it from above.
Of course it’s unsettling
Weird; even upsetting
To see it like that.
You were born there
Your life and personality took shape here
The name became flesh and made its dwelling place among … them. Us.
This is my family home. No – it was where my family lived, briefly, but home has moved on now, bought houses in the suburbs and set up camp and laid down longer roots elsewhere. Their spirit has departed, but it lives on quite legitimately in my memories.
And perhaps sometimes theirs too.
Isaiah writes about this. Being in exile but coming home to a new place. It’s a common prophetic refrain. See your children coming riding on the shoulders of strangers. Enlarge the place of your tent, that pastor in Oxford once said. Sing O single woman. You will be given a new family. As surely as Abraham; as many as there are stars in the sky…