It's so good to come home. Even if it's just from being away for two nights I always get childishly excited over it. I love going on the train every other week after college, absorbing all the travelling vibes of people and waiting for the station where Duncan will pick me up.
When I lived in Sweden and I'd come over to visit every couple of months for a week I would have that fluttery feeling inside for the whole journey and when the station was announced I'd be so excited my heart felt ready to burst. I still find myself delightfully happy on train stations, from all the memories of the times I've stepped off a train, searched the crowds on the platform for him and ran the last steps for that hug I'd been longing for. Anyway, what was I saying?
Oh yeah, coming home. I just thought about it last night when I was met by the smell of my own home opening the door. You know how you don't smell it when you're living there all the time and being away just for a little while you can sense it for a brief moment? I love smells. I go on small adventures with my nose every time I go to Reading (where my college is).
This weekend there was a stall on the Saturday open air market amongst all the vegetable, fruit and trinket stands where they were roasting something and the air filled with wafts of smoke. The leaves that have fallen give that dry, earthy scent and the fresh breeze somehow smells clean. People passing me in the street leave trails of perfume or eau de cologne, that clean laundry smell or this group of teenage boys who were eating jelly bears and smelled like raspberry flavour.
I passed a lady on my way back around 20.00 (I stay at a hotel on Friday and Saturday night), one of the many homeless folk in Reading. She was squatting on the sidewalk with her backpack and her blanket, cap drawn down over her face and looking down. I recognise most of them by now as I walk that way every other week and I like saying hello, in fact I find them far more refreshing than other people as they're more likely to look you in the eye and enjoy a chat. Besides, several of them have dogs to keep them company (and protect them, bless) and I can't pass by then, I love dogs. I know I shouldn't give money, but I do quite often anyway and I'll buy a copy of The Big Issue only to give it back to them to sell again.
This lady I hadn't seen before though, so after passing her by because I didn't have any change I turned back and offered her one of the peaches I had just bought. She said "I'd love to have one actually" and she had such a sweet face. Older than I had thought at first, worn and grey face, but that kind of bright, mischievous smile. I turned to go and was just about to turn the corner when I heard her shouting something, eventually realising it was meant for me.
"You know, it's just like in James and the Giant Peach! James and the Giant Peach. You know?" I said yeah, Roald Dahl, I loved that book! She was such a funny character ("I'm eccentric, but I'm harmless.") that it made my evening chatting just for a few minutes. I gave her another peach ("Now they can keep each other company in my bag! Are you ripe yet? No, are you?") and she described her favourite sandwich (a thin spread of marmite and a generous layer of peanut butter on thick wedges of bread) and that was about it.
I went to my hotel wondering where she calls home, but also thinking we were at home for a little while, meeting, laughing together and sharing. Both giving something. That's my definition of home I think. The most at home I ever feel is with D, wherever that is.