Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve.
When I think back to the home I lived in as a teenager, the prevailing emotion is: Glad I’m no longer there. It wasn’t that the house was ugly (which it was in large parts) or impractical (which it totally was), it was the town I… well, learned to hate. A small, 3000-souls-village in the south of Germany where my father was the minister. As the family of the town’s minister, we were the talk of the town. Puberty is hard enough in itself, especially when you’re a girl that at 14 towered over most other children and was really not pretty. I was weird, I felt weird and I always knew our neighbours were watching.
The house was made available for us by the church, a big three-storey house, where the ground floor was mainly my father’s and his secretary’s offices and a guest room (later my sister’s room) and the third floor was mainly attic and the two rooms that my brother and I had. The remaining floor included a tiny bath, the kitchen, the living and dining room, my parent’s room and the room where my youngest brothers lived. It was crowded and there was always something wrong with the lights, so the floors and especially the attic were always full of strange shadows. For a while, the door to the attic wouldn’t close and so, every time I went upstairs, I kept my eyes on the black, gaping hole that was the door…
My mother did her best to make the house home and not everything was bad. The garden was a beauty. A huge birch towered over the house and, despite my mum’s fears, became our favourite climbing tree. It was a wild and beautiful garden, full of birds and cats and flowers, green and yellow and white. A hazel tree and blackberries grew there, sweet and dark, and apples, small and sour. There was a stream in the village, where we played and wandered on when it was frozen. In these moments, it was beautiful.
But I think it was that time in that village and house when I learned that home is where my heart is. No matter what flat or house we live in, my family is my home.