New House, New Chapter, New Reasons to be Ridiculously Sentimental


September 2015

24 Coolfin Street (chill out mum, it's safe - I'll have moved by the time I post this), it's been a good one but it's time to say goodbye.

It's not a big deal though. It is absolutely not a big deal. People move house all the time and I'm usually the one laughing when they get super sentimental. I've only been living here two years and I don't even own the furniture in the house so moving isn't really a life-changing task. I mean, I'm not mega-attached to it or anything. The living room roof leaks daily and under every rug, there's some sort of stain hiding away until inspection day. It doesn't have a garden or a spare bed for friends to sleep in, and our dining chairs are £5 plastic fold-ups from Ikea. The sofa smells like pee and when it doesn't smell like pee it smells like stale yoghurt. The police are on my street at least once a week and occasionally I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because I think there's a drunk man on my sofa again (No really, true story. Sorry you found out about it like this dad. But aren't you happy I'm moving now?). The busy road outside never stops, it feels claustrophobic being so close to the centre of Belfast, you have to fight for your bin on Bin-Lorry-Day, and while you're at it you have to fight for a parking space outside your own house too.

So I repeat, moving house is not a big deal.

Except, I've been packing all day but I've spent more time sitting on my living room floor with a spinning head and a sore heart. And you know what? It's kind of a big deal.

24 Coolfin may not look like much but that leak in the living room roof usually starts when I jump into the bath with Reuben before bedtime and we get carried away with the water fights (FYI that's not what I told my landlord). The stains under the rugs are from the many liquid spills from a larger-than-life little boy who has no hand-eye coordination, or better yet, some stains are from a lazier-than-any-toddler-I've-met-in-my-life little boy who has taken a year to learn to use the toilet. What a journey that has been. That secluded intimate, back-alleyway has posed as a 'garden' for many football matches, many muddy-puddle-jumping competitions, and many after-dinner chats about our days because full days at University and Creche are far too long for a mother and son duo to be apart (despite how much I hated him in my last blog post).

The lack of spare bed, or any spare space for that matter, has lead to many sleepless late-night-chats on my living room floor, many friendships grounded in the early hours of the morning over cups of tea or 1 am giggles, and several attempts to get as many friends as possible into my bed... only to be kicked out again at 3am by Reuben who wants mummy cuddles. The £5 plastic fold-ups from Ikea have served many 'dinner parties', birthday parties, and the 'let's all go to Reb's house after Reuben's asleep' parties. They also served Reuben during his many attempts as an escape artist when he still needed to be secured in a booster seat to eat at the table, they've survived his many tantrums when sitting at the table to eat was out of the question, and they're just light enough for him to carry into the kitchen and stand up on the bench beside me to 'help' me with the cooking or washing the dishes.

The sofa may smell like pee/stale yoghurt and I may never get my deposit back but I can't help but laugh at how it's become a regular routine for visitors to check/sniff my sofa before they sit on it. And I often wonder why they still want to be in my company but they go on ahead and sit down anyway. The bin wars lead to the most surprising of conversations with neighbours and I've learned that Christmas cards and mince-pies are not the way to their hearts, but instead they favour a good old bit of healthy competition (and a council fine in my case). Being so close to Queens may have been claustrophobic but friends have become family and that's how we learned that it takes a village to raise a child.

If you wanted somewhere to settle down as a family and raise your kids, you'd probably swipe left if you saw 24 Coolfin on Tinder. I get it, it's hard to explain to a 3-year-old why there's a random drunk man on your sofa first thing in the morning when all you want is a bowl of Rice Krispies for breakfast. But this house was our first home as a family - a family of 2. And it's kind of a big deal to us.

This is where we learned to stand on our own 4 feet and cement some routines, traditions, and memories of our own. When I nabbed this house 2 weeks before I started university and decided to ship my one-year-old to a new city, a new house, and a new creche, everything felt so uncertain. When I used to imagine myself at University, I didn't think my housemate would be a one-year-old. Before I got knocked up, or before I was a Christian for that matter, I thought I would spend every night of Freshers making questionable decisions in questionable clubs, and instead, I spent my evenings practicing my questionable bedtime routine and cleaning questionable substances off my carpet. But from the very first day in 24 Coolfin when I found myself sitting on my living room floor overwhelmed and crying because I'd broken the hoover, TV, and 3 cups in one day, until today when I once again found myself having a wee cry on my living room floor because packing is stressful and I have a Christmas tree up in September; through it all God has been so good. He has provided for us every step of the way and on my rental contract I may be a lone parent, but I'm certainly not alone. 

I hadn't planned on moving house until I'd finished university, I hadn't planned for my favourite family to be moving away, and I certainly hadn't planned on renting their house. (But then again I hadn't planned on making them my favourites and loving them quite so much anyway, so let's conclude that having a plan is overrated). Moving out of 24 Coolfin is a pretty big deal but our new home is already pretty darn special and it's a privilege to set up camp there. I'm so excited for this new chapter (mostly because our new house has a dishwasher) and I know that God will be as faithful as he has ever been (I mean come on, he's giving me a dishwasher). But for now, I'm off to sleep (or attempt to sleep with my spindly offspring and his flashing Christmas tree) because I'm exhausted from spending my last evening doing what we did best in this house  - chatting into the early hours of the morning on my stained sofa (where all the lifelong friends are made and something tells me this deepening friendship is no different)... In true 24 Coolfin Style, some might say. 

September 2017