In less than two weeks I'll be returning to the place I came from. I use this rather elaborate phrase because I can't say "home." By the time I return, I'll have lived here for 12 months, and I'll be returning for ten to twelve more. That would make this home, but the place I lived just a place I'm visiting. (Incidentally, isn't the application of the word "home" curious? For example, here I live in a hall of residence, so that isn't really "home." But nowhere else is home, either, now. Even before I came here, although the town I lived in contained my home [my house] I never considered that town home. For years I've called my parents' house "home" [as in, "I'm going home for Christmas"], but it hasn't been home for nearly twenty years. Home is, it would seem, an elastic and complex concept indeed; it can mean where you lived as a child or almost anywhere you live, but it can't mean somewhere you live that you don't think of as "home.")
Anyway, as is clear from this blog, I usually don't have much that's good to say about the place to which I'm returning. But in fact there are many good things about that place, and a number of things I'm looking forward to. So, to give it its due, I've decided to make a list of them:
1. The Cupcakes - hands-down the thing I'm looking forward to most. My ex-town has a bakery that makes the best cupcakes I've ever had. It's not really the cupcakes: it's the icing. First of all, there's about two inches of it. Then, it's so creamy, and fluffy, but simultaneously sugary, that it floats me nearly to Nirvana.
2. My Cat - It's been a whole year! I love my cat! I want a cuddle. I hope she doesn't hate me for leaving her.
3. My Home Department - I love my department. The people are nice; I have an office that I like; and I have colleagues who are also friends. In fact, my department is basically the one place in my former town where I do have friends. I never thought I'd want to go the office, but when I lived there I used to go every day, even when I didn't have to.
4. Ballet - You know how sometimes you go somewhere, and you find something you never expected to find? Well, I never expected that in the tiny town where I lived I'd find a superb adult ballet teacher, but I did. Alas, she's only running two weeks of classes while I'm there, but you can bet I'll be taking at least two classes both weeks!
5. My Flat - I painted it myself; it has hardwood floors; it has three rooms and an alcove. Enough said.
6. My Former Students - Who are now my friends. Yes, I've been writing to them, and, yes, I've enjoyed that, but it will be lovely to be able to talk to them.
7. My Barre - In my flat I have a portable barre, which I take into the living room and use to give myself a full ballet barre nearly every night. I've never been able to find such a thing here, and I have to do the barre hanging on to the back of a chair. I'm so looking forward to having something the right length and height.
8. Endangered Species Superdark Chocolate - I don't know why, but even though I've been able to get chocolate with the same cocoa percentage here, it's never tasted as good. I'm going to buy 20 bars and bring them back!
9. Jimmy John's Subs - Vegetarian, involving avocado spread and a delicious roll. I might have one every night!
10. The outdoor pool - Which is lovely, because you can float on your back and see the trees above you. Yum.
11. Free printing - I can print out as much as I want at the university library, and it won't cost me a cent. Here? 5p per page. Nicely, I'm starting on a new project, so I can print all the necessary articles there and bring them back.
12. It Will Be Very Hot - This is not something I normally like - at least, I don't like as much as heat as the town's weather provides (40c/104f during July). Because I haven't been hot for a very long while, however, and because the heat there is stunning in its strength and continuity, I'm looking forward to the experience.
So, essentially, my first day there could look like this: buy a cupcake, go to the department, print some stuff, stand outside to appreciate the heat, swim, eat a sub, go to ballet, come home and wander around the flat, petting the cat. Oh, wait - that's pretty much what my days were like when I lived there.