Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Going Home.



The spring buds fattened slowly forth into summer fruits, the summer fruits gorged on the sun and the rain and ripened into swollen bunches of sugar and promise and then the village came forth to stoop and pick and gather. All that was grown and fostered, nurtured and tended came to fruition and it was time to bring the harvest to bear, to say this is what we have made and this is what it will become. 


As with the grapes so with our plans. Our ideas for what was to be, our thoughts on what had passed. Our desires and dreams and hopes and wishes. Those that had not come to fruition were let go sadly and with many tears.




We had been flirting with a dream but as the rains fell and the sun beat down it was becoming clearer every day that our dreams, the ones we had been focusing on – they weren't ripening. Perhaps they were planted in the wrong place, perhaps the conditions weren't right or the timing wasn't ideal, maybe the weather hadn't been quite optimal but as the season drew on it became clearer, storm by storm, day by day that although we had wished and hoped and dreamed of a long term life in France, the reality was that it wasn't quite working for us. 



Although the plan had always been that we would just come here for a few months while we figured out the next step, we had harbored secret dreams of staying forever, I mean why wouldn't you? It's beautiful, it's perfect. Except. Except that it's not home and it turns out that we long for home - somewhere where the ground is receptive to roots being placed. Here, although we have tried, our roots have pushed up against rock and boulder, have been baked and burned in the heat, half drowned in the rains, struggled to get by in the climate that is very hospitable to only one thing, one crop that has evolved over thousands of years to thrive here. A crop that isn't ours. 



The realisation that however hard we wished for it this wouldn't be our home and that what we really longed for home was painful, it hurt. We have loved it here. Over the last two months the tiny roots that had managed to push through the ancient rock and slate, that had begun to cling slowly but dearly to the landscape were eased away, pulled from habit and familiarity, from hope and recognition and although they were wrapped in the damp cotton of loving and careful relocation they cried, aching for the place that they had so desperately tried to make home. My heart, it aches. 




I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay, until I didn't. I wanted France to be my home, French to be my language, these to be my people. This place where people care about the things that I care about, about family and food and celebration and the small but sacred routines of every day life. This place. it speaks to my soul in so many ways but not in the ways in which my soul can speak back. How different it would be if we were French.


 

Sometime over the endless two months that was W&P's school holidays there came a point that felt like The Time, the point where we had to decide to either commit to investing a serious amount of time in France and finding our own home, or to leave. And so we decided to leave, to try that thing that we have talked of and batted back and forth for the last ten years. That thing that has always been our maybe and our some day and our what if and our but I don't think I could. The life that has sung a siren song to us and yet always scared the sweet crap right out of us. 



In a few weeks we are moving to the Western Isles of Scotland. To the island that my grandmother comes from, that we spent every childhood holiday on, that I moved to with my mum when I was twelve – a move that the only upside of which I could think being that if we lived there we would have to go somewhere else on holiday. And yet, within a few weeks I was as happy there as I've been anywhere. My feelings about the place are mixed. It's home, home of my heart, home of my dreams. It's the colour of my soul and the picture that creeps across my canvas. It's my answer to the inevitable 'where are you from?'.  It's also the place of my most anxious recurring  nightmares, the claustrophobia of a life I've already lived, a life that I remember as both the best of times and the worst of times. Home, in other words. 
 

There are a million things that draw me back and a good half dozen that repel me. In the interests of my family and our future and the possibility that it might just be the thing that soothes my soul, I've agreed to move back, to try it one more time, thirteen years after I last lived there.
 


Nye and the girls are delighted. There is talk of dogs and chickens and beaches and lambs. Cows and horses and goats and open fires. Newly built houses and machines that convert methane into heated swimming pools. Of friendships and conversation and being able to share a common language with people again. Of proximity to family and to the dearest of friends. Of remoteness, of the wilds, of living a life on the edge of all the things that most people hold dear. Of home. And for that I hold the greatest hope. Home. God, how I've missed it. 





50 comments:

  1. I hope it all works out like the dream you have. It will. Of course. Maybe not exactly as imagined right now, but it will. How exciting!!!!!!

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    1. Thank you, we're really excited!

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  2. DOGS AND CHICKENS AND BEACHES AND LAMBS.

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  3. "It's my answer to the inevitable 'where are you from?'. It's also the place of my most anxious recurring nightmares, the claustrophobia of a life I've already lived, a life that I remember as both the best of times and the worst of times. Home, in other words."

    Home. Perfectly put.

    I of course selfishly can't wait for your photos and your writings from home. Letters from home. And, as one who came home and stayed, I'd say two things. You may get a chance to unify yourself, to amalgamate. And, I bet France is a great place for long, long summer holidays. <3 OK, three things. You don't have to stay there if it doesn't work.

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    1. Thank you. There is a lot of material in Going Home, it would seem.

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  4. introv.butterfly22/9/15 3:53 pm

    Oh my, Cara, I never wanted this post to end. Please write a book? Or more? Those final two sentences almost made me sob (and I was holding it together so well up to that moment).
    I really don't have the right words right now, but all the luck ever, deep breaths and I hope it all goes well for you and yours.

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    1. Oh thank you, what a lovely comment. x

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  5. Oh, C. Your words are achingly beautiful and then hilarious. ("The life that has sung a siren song to us and yet always scared the sweet crap right out of us.") And your photos. They get me every time. All the love to you & N & W & P through all this. xxxxxxx

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  6. THESE PHOTOS ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  7. Ohh I'm moving back "home" too. But now with my 6 month old in tow. I believe you and I are both feeling the same things... wishing you luck and good vibes!

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    1. A million wishes of good luck to you and your bubba! x

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  8. Hey Cara,
    I've been following you for about three years. I have always admired your sense od adventure, bravery, tenacity and no bullshit attitude. Home isn't always where we lay our hat, but there's nothing wrong with popping it down on a strange chair to see whether it might.
    Leanne xx

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  9. Your words are so beautiful, as is the way you see life through your camera. There's no doubt you'll find the beauty in the next adventure, too. All the love and hand holding. X

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    1. Thank you lovely, it's much appreciated. x

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  10. I live with my family in the place I was born. Never did I think that would be the case. But here I am and happy as hell. Although I do harbour a dream to live in the Western Isles........

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    1. It's funny how we find happiness in the last places we imagined we would. I'm glad to hear that you are happy. x

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  11. All the best for your move "home". Your children are very lucky that they'll have so many beautiful places they can choose to call home one day! Also, you are kind of living my and my husband's dream by moving to the Western Isles. I can't wait to see the photos. Good luck!!

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    1. Thank you, that my children are lucky to have these places is something I needed to hear.

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  12. Let me tell you a story. A story about a very brave family. They love fiercely and travel lightly and grab onto adventures together. They try new things and laugh together and stumble alongside each other feeling safe because . . . Well they have each other's backs. They dream with vigour and reckless abandon. They aim high because . . . Why not!? They act more and talk less. They roam, they fly and they inspire. The father is a handsome devil (apologies but I'm sure I'm not your only reader to think thusly!) The children are global sprites. The mother is a poised and stunning warrior. They came, they saw and they conquered.
    The story has no end. Only beginnings. ������

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    1. Oh Angie, you made me cry. Thank you, you are the sweetest. And yes, he's pretty gorgeous! x

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  13. PS - those weird symbols at the end of my last comment are meant to be hearts ... But technology. Go figure.

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    1. They come up as question marks on my screen, which seemed appropriate to me!

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  14. I totally get this... Perfectly encapsulated here
    http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/building-vocabulary
    Will maybe run into you in town xx

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    1. Thank you, that's a really beautiful poem. x

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  15. Wonderfully written, Cara and gorgeous photographs - hope life is good to you all in North Uist, it will be lovely to have you all closer.
    Ish xx

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    1. Thanks Ish! I'm looking forward to being closer too. x

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  16. Second what Ishbel said (except for the bit about being closer that is!) and yes, you need to write a book xx

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    1. A *little* closer! And thank you. x

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  17. Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage,
    Ou comme cestuy-là qui conquit la toison,
    Et puis est retourné, plein d'usage et raison,
    Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son âge !

    Quand reverrai-je, hélas, de mon petit village
    Fumer la cheminée, et en quelle saison
    Reverrai-je le clos de ma pauvre maison,
    Qui m'est une province, et beaucoup davantage ?

    Plus me plaît le séjour qu'ont bâti mes aïeux,
    Que des palais Romains le front audacieux,
    Plus que le marbre dur me plaît l'ardoise fine :

    Plus mon Loire gaulois, que le Tibre latin,
    Plus mon petit Liré, que le mont Palatin,
    Et plus que l'air marin la douceur angevine.


    Your french is good enough to understand this poem, right?
    ;)

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    1. Ha! No. Not quite. Google Translate gave me the gist though!

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  18. Good luck Cara x

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  19. Beautiful words Cara. It's very brave of you and Nye to try this out, and I'm so happy that you're coming home. I so very much hope it works out for you, but if it doesn't, there are so many new places and new adventures waiting xxx

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  20. That you're moving to the Western Isles actually gave me a tingle up my spine. Well done for living bravely, for listening to that terrifying little voice that speaks of hopes and dreams, for putting your whole heart into your decisions.

    We just moved back to the UK from Asia with dreams of home and a bit of stability high in our minds, we are now making a home in a new town which we had hoped with quiet hopes would be a good place for all of us. So far it has far exceeded all our expectations in many different directions, I hope your move home will be equally excellent for all of you.

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    1. Thank you Rowan, that's really lovely to hear and I'm glad it's working out for you guys. x

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  21. I so understand your search for home and broken expectations and dreams. My love to you all and best wishes and prayers for the next chapter!
    Love Tamara xoxox

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    1. Thank you lovely. Finding 'home' is hard, xx

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  22. Oh shit, Cara. This just made me cry. Oh, I hope with all my heart that you really can go home again. My heart aches now. I love you guys & I can't wait to hear how it goes, and I really cannot wait to see how you depict it.

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  23. Best of wishes on your newest adventure back home.

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  24. Such a beautifully constructed piece Cara, those words and those images are magical together.

    I'll be sad not to see more pictures of your life in France, particularly that INCREDIBLE black-watered swimming pool that makes me want to dive into my phone screen whenever I see it.

    Hoping the transition to the next chapter of your life goes smoothly, and you find the sense of "home" you are looking for. I admire your determination to keep going until it is right. It will all come good in the end, and if it doesn't then it's not the end, as they say.

    Bonne chance! xx

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  25. There is no place like home indeed! The photographs you have there gives me nostalgia of my own place. Thank you for sharing! :)

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  26. I am late to this but I was nervous of moving back to where I grew up, I pass by my then-hated middle school every day and thought it would drive me crazy, BUT it has been wonderful. I felt like I was failing, like I couldn't possibly go back as it was somehow admitting defeat to be near my mum again after years and years in London. But it's not the same as when I was young - in the very best way - and I appreciate the wilds of the Chiltern Hills so much more as an adult. I feel rooted and proud to say 'yes, I am local, I was born round the corner', it is where I am from and it is speaks to a deep part of one's soul to feel like you are home. This seems like the best move yet to me, bon voyage!

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  27. Home--so many conflicts and so essential. Much good luck.

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  28. Have wanted to visit there ever since learning a little about Angus McPhee.

    Hope you find some people, and are happy.

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play nice.