A few weeks, not long back from my big trip around America shooting my new project about my mum and my journey through her life and our life together, I walked passed our old house in Kentish Town. It’s always held this magical feeling for me, it’s one of the only places I have true happy family memories. I have so many memories of it, all slightly dreamlike, dark, blurred, warm, abstract, but indelible in my head none the less. I’ve always thought what it might be like to return, especially for this project I’m doing. It was the one bit that was missing. As I walked passed it, unplanned, I was thinking how would I ever be able to get back in, could I perhaps just knock on the door and explain to the new family who I was and what I wanted to do. That didn’t seem like a normal thing to do. Still thinking heavily about this the next day I opened my emails to see an email forwarded on from my dad, from a man who now lives at the house! It was the most wonderful of coincidences. He had been removing a door from the sitting room, when a small wrapped up thing fell out from the wall, it was a kind of time capsule my dad had made, it consisted of some old 60/70’s stuff and his name. He had found my dad on the internet and invited him to come round to pick it up. I couldn’t quite believe the timing of all this, right in the middle of publishing my Tulip book about my mum and right in the middle of doing the new project. I jumped at the chance and am going this Sunday.
I explained to Harold (which was also my grandad’s name), the new owner, about my photography project and is very keen on me coming round and do some in the house. I lived in the house from birth till 6 years old, and haven’t been there for 30 years now. He wants me to meet his family, especially his 6 year old daughter, the age I was when I left there. Amazingly enough it still has the kitchen my uncle built and my mums old Aga cooker. That kitchen is so central in all my memories in that house. I spent a few hours this morning going through all our old family albums, and it’s where nearly all the photos were taken in that house.
So this Sunday I am returning. It’s so weird and so great at the same time. Though I worry that by seeing it now it will wipe out some of the old treasured memories, I really hope not. I really hope it hasn’t been done up and feels impersonal, as thats not what it was like when I grew up there. I like the way I remember it.
It will be so amazing to be standing in my mothers old kitchen, looking at her old cooker. I’m looking forward to what feelings come up when I get there, that’s what all my work is about now, I’m looking forward to it greatly. The only sad bit is in the back of my head I keep thinking I will see my mum there. Maybe this is another stage in the letting go…