25 March 2016
London has been home now for almost twenty years. I adore it. I love the bustle and the excitement of being in the capital, I love the fact that it is cosmopolitan, and hubby doesn’t need to feel uncomfortable being the only Arabic boy in the village, and I love the opportunities it brings. It is home to me. I spent significant chunks of my childhood visiting London as my Dad lived and worked there, and from a very early age, my brother, my sister and I were all riding round solo on the tube. Covent Garden and The Museum of London were, and still are, my favourite places to visit. My coven is there, my university is there, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
But if you asked me where home is, I will always tell you its Dartmoor, even though I haven’t lived there for the last twenty five years, and we no longer have our family home there. Something happens to me when I come home – it’s as if an indrawn breath is let out with a sigh, and my body feels it is in the right place. And yet I know I could not live here, not yet anyway. Maybe one day I will come home for good, and settle back down on the granite with the buzzards and the skylarks, but I haven’t reached that time yet.
So how can I have two homes? How can I connect with such disparate lands, and still feel absolutely committed to each of them as being my sacred land? For many years I went round London, feeling homesick for Dartmoor and really hankering after it. I realized it came up in lots of conversations I had with people – I didn’t stop talking about it. I felt conflicted, cut off, as if there was a big part of me missing. And then one day I sat myself down and gave myself a good stern talking to. ‘If you miss it that much, why aren’t you there?’ And I didn’t really have a good reason as to why I am not there full time, other than simply ‘I am not’. I am still in love with London as much as Dartmoor, and my life is there now. My husband, my work, my university life, my spiritual life all revolve around standing on the clay soil, but I still need to touch the granite in order to ground myself, to make myself whole again.
There is no logic in it really. I feel just as much at home in both places. Then I realized, that my immediate ancestors were split too - half from Plymouth, and half from East Ham. Perhaps it is a genetic thing, and could explain why both places are home?
But while London has my heart, Dartmoor has my soul. I dream of it almost nightly. I walk the hills and the turnpikes in my sleep, I bathe by the brooks and the rivers, and I still sing my songs to old lady willow who waits for me in Happy Valley beside the Wallabrook. When I walk in the hills the smell of the sheep and the peat soil and the brackish water awaken something in me that has been sleeping for a long time. The song of the skylarks anchors me, and I know I make sense there. Nothing will ever feel quite like home as the view of the cooch grass blowing in the breeze, or the giant clouds scudding across the skies, their vast shadows coasting along on the hillsides below. I even have my grave plot, pre-paid and marked up ready for me, next to my Mum in the Postbridge burial ground. And some part of me always knows, that it is alright to be out in the world, having adventures in other places, learning new things and living a different life, as long as I know I will always come home at the end.