What are you most excited about in your life right now – today?

2013 is shaping up to be the dullest year of my life so far, which is an interesting balance to 2003, which was the most exciting. As each day, week, and month trickles past, I find myself reminiscing about my eighteen year old self, and thinking what she would think about my life right now. Truthfully, she’d probably think my life was a lot more exciting than it is if she viewed it from the outside: I think wedded bliss to a handsome man, a comfortable house, and two dogs to love on would have seemed quite the achievement. As would the living abroad thing – I never did have a lot of perspective about big decisions and their long-term implications.

Anyway, I digress. In terms of right now, there is only one concrete thing that I am looking forward to (other than getting home to my dogs and / or getting more than seven hours of sleep in a row), and that’s my good friend’s wedding in October. 

Gemma and I have been very close since my most exciting year, so it’s only fitting that she is the one injecting fun and excitement into my least. She’s a spitfire, a riot, an absolute joy to be around. We met in college, having dorm rooms across from one another, and shared many of those “first time away from home” moments that are sworn to secrecy. This girl once had a stranger carry two bricks from a construction site five miles home after a night out so that she and I could have “matching doorstops”, and not let a trivial barrier like a fire door stand in the way of our constant communication.

We have had lives that have strangely paralleled each others: falling in love with boys that were close friends, rebuilding relationships with our parents, and battling early onset chronic pain issues that have threatened to alienate our other friendships. In fact, we shared several days under duvets together, both of us hot-water-bottled and NSAID-ed up, watching Sex and The City and talking each other out of googling our symptoms. 

We have only seen each other twice in the last five years, so seeing her face, especially at a time that is so important in her life, is a bright spot on my grey horizon. As she is getting married in Las Vegas, at the Bellagio, her wedding is giving me an incentive to get in shape and get my health back in shape. 

I’m very excited about this.. and will no doubt post more about it over the coming few months…

How do you spend the majority of your free time?

Right now, at this very second in time, I am at the bottom of a dog pile. Batman, my four-year old dachshund and constant companion, is in his spot of choice, which is nestled in the nook of my knee. Starsky, our rescued baby, who has not been with us a full year yet, is on my feet. We are on the couch in our basement. This couch was one of the few pieces of furniture that I picked out myself – everything else my husband purchased prior to our wedding. In fact, we have another sofa that he chose in the same room – a sixties-style orange affair with low, square arms – that was our only sofa for two years. Then our basement flooded, we got an insurance pay-out, and Momma went shopping for something comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself to have good taste, but I also like something comfortable and easy to live in. This is why I like jeggings, messenger-bags, and those hair tie things that can pass as jewelry if you squint a bit. So when I went shopping, comfort was my primary objectives, after all – I told myself – we spend a lot of time on the sofa.

This is an unfortunate fact of my life: the long evenings on the sofa. And not in some newly-wedded “sofa time” kind of way. I’m a two-blanket, yoga-pants, cup of tea kind of sofa girl. I find the sofa is a place where I can really relax. Partly because of the reassuring coolness of our basement, partly because it’s close to a lot of my reminders of home (artwork, books, the leather club chair my mum bought me), and partly because I feel tucked away here.

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Starksy and I chillaxing on the couch

For the last few years I have spent a lot of time having to work in the evenings, being enslaved to a job that kept expecting more and more hours. I broke that routine (see pretty much all of my blog posts from july to November of last year) finally, but not before I sustained a massive knee injury running a half-marathon and spent the majority of my summer having to elevate one of my legs. If that wasn’t reason enough to claim the sofa as my primary residence, I also have several minor but chronic pain syndromes, and find an unordinary amount of comfort in a hot water bottle on whichever bit of me is in pain.

Yes, I know I sound lazy, but the honest truth is that I’m actually not. Naturally, I’m an active person, but I have found I am the type of person that attracts injury and illness. Therefore, right now, in my late twenties, I find myself steadily working towards the sofa each day. Of course, there are days when I don’t have any sofa time at all – days when my knees or back and stomach doesn’t hurt and I can walk the dogs, or days when I don’t find myself reaching for the work laptop (a habit that is no longer necessary, but still hard to break), and those days are good too. But I would say that, at least for the last few years, the sofa has been my sanctuary from stress, from homesickness, and from injury. And because I spend most of my time stressed, homesick, or injured, it’s become a “go-to” place for me.

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Getting loves from my Batman!!

And don’t think I spend all my time watching TV (although I am partial to Netflix): I read books, work on my novels, skype with my family, and read world news from my spot stretched our on the chaise. I know that one day, maybe soon, I am going to have to overcome some of the things that send me sofa-wards, and I’ll tackle those when I need to, but right now I am glad to have my (very large and very green) chenille sectional from Macys, my Wal-Mart heated blanket, and two very snuggly puppies.

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The husband joins in for sofa-fun!!

When you think of ‘home,’ what, specifically, do you think of?

When I think of home I think of waking up in my teenage bedroom, my un-spectacled eyes blurring the sloped yellow ceiling with it’s crudely painted, haphazard stars. Home is remembering how long it took to scrub the spray paint off the carpet. And my hands. And the cat. Home is the low, long window that yawned out to the “front” garden with it’s roses – so different to my sisters view of the back garden with its scrubby bushes, swingset, and sweeping views of the fields.

Those fields – I planted them until the sun set, harvested them until the first hard frost, and ran mile after mile around them until my knees gave in. Those aching fields, flat and monotonous and as endless as a teenager might dare to imagine. They stretched outwards, wrapping themselves behind villages and under schools, until they clattered headlong into the sea. 

Home is the sound of the English rain and knowing that all there is to do is sit in the conservatory and listen. The smell of the dirt. A visitors unidentified shoes in the utility room, and the kettle on. Home is October. Home is July and August. Home is my birthday in April collecting daffodils and filling the house with grass. The house – my house – converted from a school to a hunched, red-brick building held together by iron poles, magic, and necessity. We started wars in those walls – some of them small and inconsequential, resulting only in nostalgic conversations over telephones and emails – and others so heartbreakingly long-lasting that my parents sit in different houses now, aged with pain. 

Home is not twenty-eight. Home is not the air-conditioning failing to work, or the lack of snow removal on our street in winter. Home is not Applebees, or light beer, or Twilight fan fiction. Home is not my knees hurting when I role over at night, or the rapidly diminishing number that qualifies my motherhood potential. Home is not my own voice rattling self-consciously from my voice mail, making words in accents that are placeless.

Home could be the faces of my two four-legged children when I come home from work, the sound of their snores as I fall asleep, their first sleepy tail wag in the morning after breakfast. Home might be the smell of wood-fired steaks on a ninety-five degree day. Home almost certainly is my husband playing guitar downstairs when I sleep in on Sundays.

But home will always be that bedroom – the bookcases filled to capacity, the carpet strewn with clothes. Home will always be the pattern on the carpet, the sound of BBC Radio Four, and the shadow of the cat on the kitchen windowsill after he had come back from a long, strange night.