2014 had marked 14 years that I had been living in a semi-detached council house. I have some wonderful memories of my time living there, so this is in no way slander. It was the first house I grew up in after my Mum and Dad’s divorce, so living with my Mum in an all-girls home was joyous in so many ways. The whole street was filled with kids; you didn’t need an alarm clock to wake up. I had a plethora of best friends of all different ages and backgrounds. And the unbeatable part about it? We all lived next door to each other. I lived in a small sleepy town. I could walk down the street unattended and have no concern of saying hello to everyone. The majority of my family lived here, I could take a stroll to my Dad’s house and merely turn the corner to see my Granny standing at her living room window waving at me like a lucky fortune cat. Whilst there weren’t copious amounts of activities available whilst being a kid on your summer holidays, imagination and the freedom to roam where you please were all you needed. I was never alone, I always had someone there.
It was February of the following year, we were finally crossing the border from winter into spring. I was 16 years old. The house that had once given me everything was now being forgotten. We were packing up our belongings, stuffing our memories and new hopes into cardboard boxes. We locked and stood at the front door for the last time. My Mum told me “this new house will be a dream.” As we travelled in what felt like a slow and silent midnight train, I couldn’t help but feel trepidation for what was lying ahead. Before I knew it, my Mum’s voice travelled from the front of the car with bated breath, “this is it!”. As the car winded up a grass filled drive, I could see it from my window. A bright red door. I took a step out of the car and instantly smelt the fresh sweet breath of the sea, followed by the liquid murmur of the water. This was no ordinary ‘house’, in fact this wasn’t a house at all. The cottage was perched in the middle of thick green wilderness, so delicate and feeble it was remarkable it was still standing. 1864 was carved into the weather beaten, unevenly shaped stone wall above the front entrance. I should have felt afraid, I didn’t know how to comprehend everything that I was seeing, and I certainly had no idea about what could be lurking inside. Yet I felt calm, the place felt warm; alive. The 20ft trees in the garden were blooming, I could hear every single whisper of wind, there was music in the leaves and the birds had welcomed my arrival. I made my way to the gargantuan front door, turning the shining copper door knob when my eyes were met with the most spectacular staircase I had ever seen. Twisted into the most perfect spiral, the mahogany banister gleamed, with cobwebs hanging low. As I took my first steps into the hall my footsteps echoed through the oak wood floor. I felt as though I had just boarded my ship and was looking at the grand staircase of the Titanic. My mind raced as I raced myself around the 7 rooms downstairs and 5 rooms upstairs, desperately wanting to inspect every inch of my new surroundings. In my new bedroom I stood, solemnly gazing out my window appreciating the beauty from what I could see. I clambered up onto my window ledge sitting on what felt like the edge of my future and as the sun radiated onto my face, I felt content. Any troubles I had been experienced had miraculously dispersed.
The summer had come to an end, the clouds had now started to shut the sun out and it had been 3 months since we moved into our cottage. Throughout the warmer months it had been fantastic. We had BBQ’s on the beach that was within a stone’s throw and we sat out in our front garden in our pajamas all day, basking in the rays without having to worry about privacy. There were no other houses or people around us. We had many fireplaces in the cottage, in fact we had one in every single room. Throughout the summer we hadn’t needed to worry about using any of these as the brisk warm breeze had tucked us in, whispering goodnight. As the chill of the august winds crept through the floorboards, we awoke each day to grey skies. The birds had stopped communicating with me and the only noise I heard was the rain rattling off my window panes. Something felt different. It was as though the cottage was changing along with the seasons. Each night we retreated to bed with more layers on than the previous. Any heat available evaporated through the gaps in the stone walls. Days felt like weeks; I couldn’t even bring myself to leave my bedroom. I sulked, standing in the same spot as I had 3 months previous. Looking out the window in a dream like state I was watching myself, the person who I had once been. I felt completely isolated from the world. As I walked downstairs to the door that I had once loved, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. It was the only thing locking me from the outside. Every grain and ridge of wood became eyes peering down at me, the darkness between the cracks was seeping out trying to pull me in. This door was the way of freedom for many others but for me it was completely different. Would I choose whether I release myself from this anxious state of introverted misery? Or more to the point, was I able to.
After what felt like a perpetuity of melancholy, I had realised that my perception of time had slowly melted away from me. A gloomy stillness filled the air as I looked out at the somber, mysterious clouds of space. The dark moonless night reflected my mood as my head was filled with murky reminders of my once living past. I knew that I couldn’t keep living my life this way and I couldn’t believe that my past was more alive than my present. Now was the time to get myself out of the grey, lonely bubble that I had so comfortably formed around myself. It would be a rough road to reality, but I had aspirations and desires that I wanted to live out. I took the familiar route down the twirling stairs to my front door once again. The fear of leaving my sanctuary was nearly defeating me. But as I took my first steps back into the world that had been hiding behind this door all along, I felt as though I had been freed from the rain. I had been longing for happiness all this time. This would have been a very small step for others, but for me; it was monumental. I loved where I lived but I had spent so much of my time in a trance. I had no direction, I was scared to leave but was reluctant to stay. Now I knew that I didn’t want to find myself trapped in this recurring mental torture ever again. I engrained into my mind that from that moment that I was putting myself in charge and paving the way for my future.