Thursday, 12 March 2009

A sense of place

I've just read Cheshire Wife's post about moving house. She isn't, but there's a lot of it about at present, and reading about it makes me shiver. I've just done the maths and realised I've been living in this house for longer than I've ever lived anywhere in my life. Not counting uni. halls and student digs, I've lived in a dozen different places. That's a lot of tea-chests. And before you start to 'phone the bailiffs, I should point out that my childhood moves were down to my father's career, and almost all my adult ones have been for similar reasons. I can't say I've ever enjoyed it, though. That awful new-boy feeling never gets any better, even when you're on the staff. And all the packing and - inevitably - losing something, and then finding it again the day after buying a replacement. If I never move again I'll not be too unhappy.
And so far, Sally's been to only one school in her life; at her age I'd already been to four. People said that it was 'character building' and it may have given me some social skills (I can talk to almost anyone) but I lost the longer-lasting friendships Sally is already making. I'd quite like to stay put just to make sure that my children don't move schools too often. But it's also quite nice to 'belong', and to become known, especially when you've not experienced that before. Sometimes, of course, it's necessary to move house; for children to change schools. Our circumstances might change. But for now, to paraphrase Philip Larkin, I may actually have found that place 'where I can say/This is my proper ground/Here I shall stay'. At least for the duration of Sally and Charlie's education.

25 comments:

  1. Well said, Sir! I think stability in children and young adults' lives is very important - We moved loads before my son was born for work reasons, but stopped just after he was born, then moved once again, when he would have been moving schools anyway, so he hardly noticed the join!

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  2. I agree, but had the opposite as a child, a settled location. And after a stuttered start I hope I have found the place to give the same to my son.

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  3. That sense of belonging is so important. I've recently achieved that myself. It's a great feeling.

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  4. That's a good solution, WoNI!

    Sounds, from what I keep reading on your site SPD, as if you may have (found that place). Let's hope so.

    It's new to me, Rosie. And I must confess when I heard people talking about it in the past I had my doubts. I suppose it's never too late!

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  5. I moved around a bit as a child because of my father's work: Crystal Palace, Brighton, Leeds, Maidstone etc. I don't think it bothered me much.

    But we've lived in our current house 15 years so my 15-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter have had home stability. A few years back I was wondering out loud if we shouldn't get a bigger house and my son looked at me aghast and exclaimed, "I LOVE this house." Can't say fairer than that and we stayed.

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  6. I have lived in my house for 9 years, we moved here for my ex s job. I never wanted to leave Edinburgh.
    And I am so unhappy but when we split my eldest daughter had just moved to her 14 to 19 college (we have a 3 school system) and started her gcse coursework so I stayed here to keep their stability and I have another 6 years before my youngest will finish school.

    Sometimes I feel it's been a massive sacrifice on my part when I didn't want to leave Scotland in the first place and I know it'll be extremely difficult to pick up a life ther 15 years after I left. But I love them

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  7. I understand what you mean, Tim, but for my part I'm resigned not to belong anywhere. I lost that privilege - if you wish to call it so - when I left Italy. Although I like living here I know I do not belong here and when I go back to Italy I also know that I do not belong there anymore either. I feel a foreigner wherever I go and although it's not always a nice feeling, I think I've manage to get the best of it, that "uniqueness" that I have both here and in Italy (in Italy I'm the "lady who lives in England" and here the "Italian lady"). Not so bad after all. Wish a lovely weekend. Ciao. A.

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  8. Sometimes becoming 'known' is the reason for moving!
    Sx

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  9. Sally would certainly agree with that, DD. Whenever we've so much as glanced at a house with a 'For Sale' board she's started going on about how much she likes living where we do and how she loves her bedroom etc.

    I wonder if they appreciate the sacrifices, Auntie G? They probably do, and it's worth it.

    I suppose I've wanted to put down some roots through not feelng I ever belonged anywhere, Antonella. Having had that sense of place then lost it must be hard, though.

    And I hadn't thought of that, Scarlett!

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  10. Please don't mention Those M H words to me!

    Seriously, tho', I certainly want my kids to stay in this area and at their current schools. My friends husband is a real local and knows everyone and i'd like it to be the same for them.

    In complete contrast to you, My Mum has been in her house for 40 years and I used to yearn to move when i was about your daughter's age. The grass is greener eh? xxxxx

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  11. We are finally in our "place to stay" as well. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I found this house...I knew right when I walked in that I was "home."

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  12. I love moving around - I find it all very exciting, although my parents lived in the same place for all my childhood and young adult days (much to my mum's chagrin - she wanted to live in France; how odd that I've ended up there and she never even lived to see it)

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  13. I love that paraphrased quote! It seems that here in my neck of the woods in Canada, people are more transient moving to "bigger and better" digs than over in the UK-well I mean Northern Ireland. That is one thing I LOVE about my grandparents' "old country!" I love that people seem to stay put in their communities. I love that neighbours know each other and visit, etc. Thankfully, my family didn't move often-in our two moves I stayed at the same schools. Personally, I need that sense of community and belonging. It is a kind of safet and it does ground us! So many of my students have moved way too much in my opinion in their short life. I think they need that stability to help them cope with life! Good post!

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  14. Can't compete in the moving stakes - once at 11, from first childhood home; next to marital home at 23, then to the present one at 51, fter a divorce! Guess I'm a stick in the mud...

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  15. I can imagine moving to so many different schools was quite hard but it will definitely have its advantages - more friends I suppose?

    I've lived in many different houses, particularly since I left home in 1990 but I feel the same as you, I hope this is where I with rest.

    CJ xx

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  16. We moved twice last year - I don't want to do it again for a long time! The upheaval is ... traumatic. I didn't enjoy it. x

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  17. Having moved 26 times, 18 of those times before the age of 20, I can really relate to this post.
    On the one hand I'm very comfortable with meeting new people, on the other hand I have always longed for that commraderie of knowing the same people my whole life.
    Facebook is challenging me in that way. I have a lot of facebook friends, but it's a constant reminder that most of those people are still friends from childhood, and I'm usually that friend from kindergarten, etc. etc. who moved away.

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  18. I hope you can stay put. The children form great friendships if you can stay within the community :)

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  19. My father used to say that I moved house every five years to avoid decorating. But now we are settled and have just painted the hall, stairs (2 stairwells) and two landings. Hard work but saved a fortune.

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  20. Thank you for the mention. Pleased that a post of mine has inspired you to write.

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  21. As you might imagine, I hate change. I love our big old 4 bedroomed house and am dreading having to move once the boys leave home...though N2S does say he is going to live with us forever so the move may never happen!

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  22. I had a totally stable upbringing, but my 8-year-old is now on his fourth school (physically: they knocked one down and rebuilt it) with the prospect of moving again this summer. Thankfully both my children are excellent at adapting, but I long to give them the long-term stability I had.

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  23. Facebook adds a new dimension to the situation, Z and T. I seem to have aquired in excess of three hundred friends at present!

    Spot on, Suburbia. That's something I don't want Sally and Charlie to miss out on, for sure.

    We live on three floors too, Troy, so I really can appreciate what you've done.

    Well, thank you for the inspiration, CW!

    Sounds like the kind of house you ought to stay in forever, DJ.

    Well, that's a good-enough excuse to change schools, Catharine. Bit dramatic, though!

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  24. Lord, I was having that exact same thought today - similar background too, and I don't want to move my Charlie about either.

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  25. I can't imagine staying in one place for more than a few years. I love discovering new places, making new friends and making new homes. I also love visiting the places I used to live and appreciating them just like I did the first time I ever saw them, and even more with the memories added in. I find I begin to lose the appreciation, the longer I have been in a place. Different personalities- and it is great to hear the other perspective.

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