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homes

The boxes aren’t all unpacked yet, but ‘home’ has always been a state of mind for a family who move between houses yearly, who wave each other off at train stations and can only steal each others clothes from suitcases.

All those car journeys sat on duvets with pans blocking the rear-view mirror, the alarmed phonecalls about inventories and lost bracelets and landlords. All leading us to this house. To this sofa (from the last place) under these blankets (from the place before that) with these books (new) resting on that coffee table (from the first place). Photos of graduations line the bookshelf now, by the one of toothless grins.

This is my family. We have been a family for so long. Us, five years this weekend. You, eleven years this November. Them, fifty odd years in August. We’ve swelled, bringing in people to call our own, and someday we might even make one of those additions from scratch. I don’t bring up the thought because I know it will get your mind whirring, of course. So we sit. Bickering and laughing and cajoling and in a new house, one finally big enough to fit us all in, just in time for each of us to fly the nest.

I’m looking for a home myself. Starting a faction of the family elsewhere, to reunite in at Christmasses and to gather our own memories into. It’s far, but not the furthest away we’ve been. It’s more permanent, with no term time tenancies to break the absences. I want to grow it like you grew ours, even when they were temporary. To fill it with playful shadows and the smell of soft frying onion and garlic, to fill with noise and all the clutter of a day.

I want to do all of this, and then I want to bundle a toothbrush and some jumpers into a handbag and get the train back to yours. Back home. Wherever you want to put it.

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

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every version of me

You feel, all being well, that you are a whole person. Every day, you know who you are and what you want. How your career should look, what it is you believe in, whether you take sugar in your tea. Every day you know these things about yourself.

But. You look back on your photos and laugh at your outfit choices. You mourn the time wasted in shitty jobs. You replay a moment of cruelty from years ago before you fall asleep. Every day, you recognise that who you are today is not completely you. You have an ambition to one day wipe from your memory those bad punchlines, that fringe. But then, they were part of you.

When Jonathan asked me to marry him, I said yes. I said yes to him, right away. In fact, I think I said yes before he had actually managed to get all four words out. It is the single greatest yes I have ever said.

I did not pause to ask the previous versions of myself. I did not ask 2008 Farrah if it was okay to give up on the dream of marrying Jude Law. I did not ask 2011 Farrah if it was okay to rescind on those pub-fuelled declarations of staying single as a feminist martyr. I did not ask earlier-that-day Farrah who scowled when Jonathan shook me awake too early. I did not ask. I just said yes.

In the month since the best yes of my life, I have spoken with 2008 Farrah to explain that Jude Law was always unrealistic, and that the film Alfie was fictional anyways. I have spoken to 2011 Farrah, and explained that when I said those gaudy words I was a) drunk and b) a dickhead. I have spoken to scowling morning-of-the-engagement-Farrah, but she still isn’t convinced. I’ll work on her.

I was wholly me when I said yes. The me’s before that yes were all part of my character development, culminating in a woman who would one day say yes to the man kneeling before her one August morning. The most wholly me thing I have ever done is agree to marry Jonathan, and I suspect the most wholly him thing he has done is ask me. Those versions of me met all the versions of him and agreed, wickedly, to be the texture we bring to the next chapter. To be the colour on the walls of the new hallways that stretch before us both.

The Jonathan and Farrah who kissed on Cleeve Hill will now watch how the future versions of us unfold, entwined.

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and if you think this post is self indulgent nonsense, you should have seen version one.

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Home

I haven’t been myself of late, I haven’t slept for several days, but coming home I feel like I designed these buildings I walk by

-Station Approach, Elbow

We’d left the flowers in the restaurant. Tulips, ones picked out by the florist by St Anne’s Square. Purple. Served with a mother’s day card, and forgotten in our bustle to get to nearby cocktails with our names on them. I hot-stepped back to the restaurant on a retrieval mission. Mum, nana and sister on the other side of the road waiting, the rare Mancunian blue sky cut into by the clean stone edges of the library behind them. Reappearing through the doors, flowers aloft, they cheer.

~

Queuing, rain drizzled, hoodie-hems bunched into my fists. Never leave the house without a brolly, mate. The cars that steam by tear through puddles, shoring onto our ankles. Merchandisers and touts call out to fans, and I pick up a new habit of always buying a knock off tshirt at gigs. The black doors open, and we have our tickets in hand, giddy.

~

On the sixth day, God created Manchester

~

Every weekend, without fail. No texts, no promises, no arranging. You just turned up, sometimes bringing in a new person. That’s how the group got bigger, swelling week on week, as our gaggle of teens became a crowd. We’d drink Kick, play tinny bands from our phone and occasionally slope off to snog someone. Pooling money to get cider, the high whispers and sharp crackle of skateboard wheels behind.  1pm, Saturday, Urbis.

~

Alright, are kid?

~

We’d try and wag the train. One of us fooled the inspector by pretending to be asleep, but it only worked once. Mostly we’d pull into our platform, subvert the one way system, and therefore ticket inspectors, by heading upstairs to the MEN Arena foyer. Maybe we’d nip into McDonalds while we were there. The foyer had a separate exit, so we were clean sailing and £1.40 up. My heart would be in my throat the whole time. They blocked that route years back.

~

My first ever concert. Nana won tickets on a Key 103 competition, and I had agonised over what to wear. Some girls from year six would be there, and not understanding the size of the arena I thought they might see (and ergo, judge) me. The music was so loud I covered my ears at first. Later, wired by the dancing, I whispered to my sister how much she would have loved it from my bottom bunk.

~

I miss your eyelashes and the streets where I grew tall, I miss getting piss wet through, getting to yours and getting warm

-The Opener, The Courteeners

~

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Wake up call in Krakow

Of course, we didn’t expect the roof to fall in during the night. Nothing could have prepared us for the freak 4am wake up call. The night before, drunk and not used to the Polish cold, we had whacked the heating up to the highest setting and conked out on our beds. The heat and humidity of the room had gotten a little too much for the ceiling plastering, and it gave up the ghost in a dramatic middle of the night exit by crashing down with an almighty bang.

To say we shit ourselves is to completely undersell the synchronised fear of god that flashed through Emma and mine’s mind. It is the middle of the night, we have been discussing the finer points of the Taken plot all day and we were only half joking when we lavishly barricaded our hotel room’s front door, and we are one hundred and ten per cent about to be fucking kidnapped. Well, we weren’t, but we couldn’t tell for sure just yet because in the blackout darkness Emma had frozen, rooted to her mattress like she had literally turned to stone, so couldn’t outstretch her arm to turn on the only light.

‘What the fuck was that Farrah’. A low, deep urgency.

‘I don’t know Emma, turn the fucking lamp on’. She reanimated, hand shooting out of her duvet to scramble at the switch. Nothing, just the room staring back at our alarm. The radiator that lines the wall is pumping out heat with such determination that the air is thick and soupy. Looking at the pile of smashed up plaster on the floor, in our sweaty, panicked daze, I don’t think either of us were convinced that it wasn’t going to come to life and murder us. Eyeing it with suspicion, we settled back into our beds, and fell back asleep with the light on.

Silly, dazed and breathless laughter the next morning, we swept up the plaster and got ready to start our next Krakow adventure…