Many years ago, I walked into an empty house. We were moving in, the furniture van was on its way. It was a different sort of house for us – modern, detached, four bedrooms, on an estate of sorts. Not like the Victorian terraces, we’d always had. Perhaps it was the very strangeness of it. It didn’t feel like home.
The thought that came into my mind was ‘I don’t own this. It’s a myth. You can’t actually own anything, let alone a house. What I have bought is the right to live in this house for a while, and then we will move on and someone else will buy that right.’
It was strangely liberating, because I didn’t much like the house in truth, and for the first time I didn’t see the place where I lived as reflecting anything about me.
Now, I also live in a house that I don’t ‘own’ in any common use of the term. The house belongs to the man I married and he has lived here for 30 years. I simply dwell in it, alongside him. And it feels very different. Ultimately the house is not my responsibility. That too feels liberating. It is an old house, but I don’t need to worry about the state of the roof or the boiler or the paintwork.
And so I live where I am. You can find me in the woods and the fields. You can find me swimming in the rivers. You can post letters to me at a particular address but I only live here for as long as I am in the house. At other times I live in other places: on trains, in a priory, in cities or on the beach at the edge of the waves.
I don’t even live inside this body. I am this body and there is no separation. There is no ‘me’ inside. This body moves freely in time and space and lives wherever it finds itself.