"Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."
I've been getting homesick recently. It usually starts the same way every time. You have a week at work where the hours are long, the commute feels even longer, you're too tired to really enjoy yourself when you go out, your friends live an hour and a half away, and you just want your mum to make you dinner while you have a cup of tea at the kitchen table.
I was already in that place when Dan unwittingly made it worse. He was talking about firework displays, and I remembered a party from earlier this summer in Scotland. It was our friend Hannah's 21st, and her dad Allan was setting off some fireworks that had been in the loft for three years and were a wee bit damp. All we could see was Allan's torch jogging back and forth in the dark, and all we could hear were his gleeful yelps every time he lit one. We were standing round a fire kept alive mainly with kerosene because the wood was so damp, and all the kids were mocking their parents in that nice way that only Scottish parents don't really get offended by. The jeopardy of not knowing whether the firework would suddenly shoot sideways, plus the sheer hilarity of Allan's little screams, made it worth ten of every expensive yet soulless firework display London has.
Crystal Palace made it worse still, with all its old Victorian pubs which reminded me too much of the faded splendour of Glasgow. Homesickness is a funny feeling, and it's never resolved because as soon as you're back in one place you wonder what you're missing in the other.
And now it's nearly autumn, and all I can think about is how it's my favourite time of year in Scotland. I've never seen such gorgeous russet colours anywhere else, and on crisp, cold days I love walking home from the train station, the scent of the smoke from wood fires on the wind and the sun glowing frostily in the sky. I miss the sense of anticipation - a new term, it being nearly Christmas, nights out in Glasgow where waiting in the rain for an hour for a taxi doesn't even bother you because you're having such a good time. Running to work with ladders in your tights because you've had no time to change them and being given delicious homemade meringues to take home by your lovely boss (who covers for you when you stay at your boyfriend's) and catching up on a week's worth of village gossip.
Autumn is bonfire night and Hallowe'en and pubs on Ashton Lane and Byres Road with your best friends and a real fire. It's crisp, crusty leaves and pedalling your bike really fast to keep warm and seeing a bit more of your family because it's always raining outside. In London it's different. The weather isn't as sharp, and you start to miss the snuggliness of being all wrapped up in layers of wool, your body baking as your face freezes. You miss bumping into friends in the street and seeing the trees changing colour all at once. London is huge, unknowable, and even though there are parts that are like villages, and the sense of community is greater than people think, it's still not Dunlop, or even Glasgow. Economic necessity pushes people to live in London, but people live in Dunlop because they love it. It's hard to imagine staying in London forever - after all, there's no place like home.
Image from Pinterest.