(Photograph by Cammy Harper)
If university has taught me one thing, it’s that there’s nothing quite like a visit home to remind you of why you left in the first place. I was incredibly naïve at the end of this semester, and lived with the belief that a brief stint on home soil would rejuvenate me enough to start getting my life back in order. Despite an extremely enjoyable second year at Glasgow, I was selfishly worn-out with being responsible for my own life, and was looking forward to returning to a place with a regular laundry service and surfaces that weren’t permanently sticky.
Yet despite my promising outlook, I have since learned the harsh reality that going “home home” will never quite live up to my expectations. This revelation was prompted when I stepped through my front door and, for the first time in nineteen years, was able to notice my “house smell.” And while washing detergent is by no means an unpleasant smell to be greeted by, it is somewhat unnerving to suddenly become aware of a sensation which you have spent years oblivious to. The idea that you don’t pay attention to familiar surroundings until the day that you realise they have become foreign, left me wondering if the home I had thought I had missed was anything like my actual home.
My self-pitying dilemma continued to unfold when I bounded into my bedroom, only to screech to a halt upon the newly-laid carpet. This chic neutral toned room was not my bedroom. This was clearly a room for an adult. An adult who, unlike me, wasn’t likely to spill a bottle of fake tan on the carpet. And while I liked my re-furbished room, I couldn’t help but try to picture the girly tween room that I had passively left behind at Christmas. I could scarcely remember what my old bedspread looked like or what books had then made up a teetering pile next to my bed. However, this melancholia was short lived, as when I opened Snapchat, I realised that light grey walls provided excellent selfie lighting. Result.
This narcissism led me to wonder if I myself had changed since my last visit home. As if sensing this predicament, my mother stepped into my room behind me and saw me scrutinising my appearance. “You’re definitely slimmer than you were at Christmas!” she exclaimed, placing a suitcase of clothes at my feet. “I told you there was a lot of calories in beer and you should stop drinking it! And did you cut down on the fast food after nights out?” Before I had a chance to vehemently deny any such behaviour, I was cut off by the implicature that if I wanted any clean clothes, I better empty the suitcase. I obligingly began to sort through the eclectic mix of odd socks and “going out tops”, thinking fondly of the times I had worn each item. To my great reassurance, most of the items had some sign of a drunken beer or ketchup spillage. Maybe I wasn’t so different after all I thought to myself. Maybe a leopard never changes its spots after all. Maybe sometimes it just goes a clothing size down.
However, these comments had prompted a reminder that this house was a tight ship. I was barely two hours into my parents company and I was already mourning the loss of my freedom. I began to panic. This was a house of pre-planned meals. Scheduled coffee breaks. And worst of all, restricted napping times. My breathing quickened. I no longer had the power to boss those around me about. But that was all I knew! (Editors note: Struan, if you’re reading this, thanks for putting up with an autocratic leader for the entirety of your uni life xxx).Then, right on cue, my benevolent servant – who up until that point I had entirely forgotten about – knocked on my door.
“No!” I cried. “You can’t come in here! If you really want to help you can make me a cup of tea. But only in the mug that has the word tea on it! And only one sweetener, Dad!” As I say, totally at a loss for who I can boss about until September.
However, there is one unblemished constant that has made the pilgrimage home just about bearable. There is something very comforting about having some velvety black ears and a big squishy coat to dig your hands into. They say home is where the dog is, and quite frankly, I agree. I was promptly smothered by a great heap of black fur, which began to lick my face earnestly and remind me that sometime, it’s okay to go back home.