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I am Home


Nicola Leigh

There was a day when it all felt 'normal.' I  only remember that my hand independently stopped thumbing through the calendar on my lap and I looked up sharply at the brick wall, as if it had started speaking to me. Staring at nothing, eyes glazed over as I looked inside not out I watched the moment when my mind caught up with my brain. My mind’s eye showing me exactly what that looked like – a snake shedding its skin – only in reverse, ending with a crescendo of the smell of sudden turmeric, like a musky punch to the nose. For a moment or two my ears rang and the swaying room glittered with tiny throbbing yellow orbs.


Now very aware of my body in this place. My sore back on the large soft pillow, dirty knees up the concrete ceiling and flaking feet flat on the hard bed in this room, my room, where I now lived. My favourite music coming out my speakers together with my backpack – empty, clothes on the dresser, folded, hanging, neat, all looked ‘correct’.


Books were near by, a timetable written and tacked on the door. This was the room of someone who seemed ready to go, organised. Did I do all this?


Through the gauze window the weather was clear and was warm, the air quite crispy and humming with the laughter of small people and pinches of an unknown spice.


A new species of spider on the outer glass brought my gaze back inside, to where the white gecko was laughing at me wisely from the corner of the red room, ‘Heh eh-eh eh-eh eh-eh’. Were they poisonous? I didn’t know, I felt safe, I was calm and knew I was home.


But I was far from my house, in fact I was over eight thousand miles from my house – not only that but up a mountain too.


I closed my eyes and imagined being in my old place and because of the song I got there. It was crystal clear, I saw my old cream walls with their artwork, saw my friends sitting next to me amongst all the stuff that made me me, whilst hearing the sound of the trees behind the song I knew so well. Yet when I opened my eyes to this home, with that same music, some of those belongings and my own inner peace, I felt I would never really return to that old house. Not this updated version of me, not now I’ve seen myself unfold somewhere much better, peacefully and happily. I closed my eyes and went back once more, already there was less stuff in the room.


‘How can this feel like home?’ I asked the wall, the gecko and the spider. They didn’t answer but their silence said, consider the snake. How long had my mind been somewhere else? How long had I been on autopilot? How long had my brain covering the shift for my wandering mind? My whole life? Have I always had this power to lift my spirit from one place and put it down in another? Where else could I make home?

That last question stayed with me, so when I left that place a long time after, I didn’t feel sad. Others cried but I didn’t and I wasn’t scared of what was next. I bring the sunshine with me – and I’d take it right back there one day, but before I returned I would travel constantly. For years I’d have to fit myself in to every new place, atmosphere, situation and new life comfortably. Every time I packed, unpacked, re-packed, de-packed I made contact. With myself, who I was, what I owned and what burdens and belongings I could and could not carry.


Just like that first time in the red room, I’d meet myself over and over again and each time I had ‘settled in’ to the room or my skin, taking either minutes or months, my eyes would meet the wall again and to the sound of crinkling snake-skin I’d feel at home.


Now I am quicker. Although I crave a solid base and am as tired as my backpack, I also celebrate my opportunity to monitor my impact on a small room or on our colossal planet.


I am homeless and homeful in this new place today.

In my skin, I am back home.

I am always home.

I am my home.

I am Home.




For All Time


Pay the man and my space is secured

I join them as always, the pale, blank and bored

I know the unspoken rules of the bus,

the last double seat is vacant, I sit there, obvious


I must complete the symmetry, stay in formation

donning headphones, I fulfil hushed social obligation

Bare hands unwilling to wipe the window's damp veil

Condensation directs perspective, I study strangers in detail


Astounded, I see how my life could go

Around me a child, a daughter, a mother, a widow

At all stages of life I see myself here

Circling this same route year after year


A flicker inside is fanned, is warmer

Cold weather reflects my past, present, future

Housewife in a midlife? Obsessing on my shelf life?

I want to beat strife, dance with wildlife, to carry a pocket knife!


What happened to adventure, what happened to joy?

Why be Mother Hubbard when I can be Helen of Troy?

Who said I must live this life, when was that decided?

How can they be happy so blinkered, how was I so short-sighted?


Without hesitation, I adopt this redirection

From those passengers now I have a certain disconnection

An inferno of ambition in me swirls and apprises

A mêlée of dormant aspirations burst forth like sunrises


Reaching up, I pull down, 'ding' now I am free

Stepping into sharp air, I write my own prophecy

Reaching out, I breath in, freed from that bus for all time

Stepping off of the stage, forgetting my lines and exposing the pantomime


















Nicola Leigh is a teacher, photographer and new writer from Liverpool, UK. Leaving her home city in 2014 she moved Nepal to teach English to Buddhist Nuns. Next she taught Drama in New Zealand, where she produced two stage shows, lived 'without' in the native bush and also lived with the circus for a short while. It was living so close to the ocean that inspired her first children's book to educate young readers about ocean plastic waste. After taking the scenic route home, unable to settle back in England, she moved alone to an ancient chateau in France for 6 months to get started on her first positive thinking book. She collects stories not stuff and you can follow her on instagram at



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