We have lived in our house for the best part of thirty years. I have spent most of my adult life under this roof. When we moved here – from a little terrace - I thought we would do the place up and move on. Make some money on the sale and get something bigger. Indeed, two or three times we got the estate agents over and put it on the market. We searched avidly for our next home, yet somehow we never could quite face moving on. Extensions and improvements were made, and we remained. Now I cannot imagine not being here. This house has a deep homely feel – some might call it lived-in.
Whilst I am happy to be here – very happy in fact – there are some drawbacks. Not moving means we never had a major clear out. Unwanted things that you cannot quite bring yourself to throw away simply get relegated to the loft – just in case we want them at a later date. Of course, they never are needed and are soon forgotten.
I must confess that I am one of those women who never goes in the loft. Occasionally, I have ventured up the rickety ladder to point out the ‘lost’ box of Christmas decorations or the bag of winter quilts, but apart from that, this whole domain remains under my husband’s control.
Last year, as the Covid crisis rumbled on, my husband took early retirement. He announced that his first ‘job’ was going to be the loft. ‘It’s a big task,’ he announced. ‘I’m going to tackle it in sections. Bring it all down and you can see what needs to be chucked out.’ This last sentence carries a sub-heading. That most of the ‘stuff’ in the loft is in fact rubbish and needs throwing away - in my husband’s opinion, anyway. As I write, I am aware that this post will make me seem like some sort of crazy hoarder. Yet I can assure you, dear reader, I am not. However, I must confess that I am a bit sentimental. My sentimentality is definitely a part of myself that I have denied in the past. But as I get older – and maybe these revelations come with age – I realise that my sentimentality is a big part of me. I only need to look around my study to confirm this. The entire room is pretty jam packed with memorabilia. Even the pin board in front of me is studded with photos, old greetings cards and used tickets.
So, back to the loft story.
I try to write uninterrupted for a couple of hours in the morning. I close my study door and endeavour to get busy in the hope the muse will visit. But despite my noise cancelling headphones, I soon know that something is going on.
Sure enough, my husband is emptying the loft as threatened. The landing and the largest of the bedrooms is full of ‘stuff.’ Bags, old suitcases and cardboard boxes all covered in dust. ‘This is only about ten per cent,’ he says, mopping the sweat from his brow.
I look through. There is some old china, all chipped. ‘That can go,’ I say when I have unwrapped it all to check there are no actual treasures. Bravely ignoring the most interesting old newspaper it was wrapped in, I move on. An old suitcase is full of baby clothes. Soon I am on my knees. Were my daughters really that small? Then there are toys. Lots of these. More kitchen stuff - from our first house this time and some curtains I made. Soon I am in tears. Not just a few little drops of sentimentality - I’m talking floods. By the time my husband has come back down the loft ladder laden with more ‘rubbish’, I am in a proper state and crying great wracking sobs.
This stops him in his tracks. As a general rule, I am not given to tears. It takes a lot to make me cry. But these days, once I get going, it seems I can’t stop. Blubbing I mumble on about various memories the many items have brought to the surface. ‘When did we get so old!’ I wail.
Hating to see me in such a silly mess, we postpone the job for another day. And apart from a few boxes of broken china, everything goes back up the ladder.
My husband has already been retired a year – and that first task he set himself remains uncompleted. However, we both know it badly needs doing. But I think it will be more a case of tackling it just a bag at a time so that I can process a few memories instead of a lifetime all at once.
Even with this sensible plan we keep putting the job off – and there is a part of me that thinks maybe the reason this place feels so homely is that the loft is a harbour for our memories.
Thank you for reading. This blog comes out on the first of every month so do pop back. In the meantime have a look around while you're here and do join me on social media, leave a comment below , or join my mailing list and get a free story. All the best, DJ.