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  • Christine Marina

secret spaces

Updated: Apr 26, 2018

I'm rediscovering my happy place, in more ways than one. Up on the roof, the air feels sweeter, lighter, and maybe even slightly less polluted. Is it, though?




Money, money, money

When we first moved into our house 5.5 years ago, it was a stretch. We moved from a 2 bedroom flat with no garden, to a 3 bedroom house with a garden and roof terrace. It was the absolute maximum we could spend, and we hocked ourselves up to the eyeballs to make it happen. I still ocassionally wake up in a cold sweat, dreaming of the debt we live under. In the subsequent years we have updated and extended the house, once again borrowing vast sums of money to make it happen; queue the return to full time work about 5 minutes after Small was born. I love our house, and whilst I sometimes feel it owns us more than we own it - it still gives me butterflies when I see it in Spring, drenched in sun, overgrown front garden, messy bins and all. What sold it to us all those years ago, other than the tricky estate agents with all their talk of 'village living' (it's not in a village but on the 'border' of a London village - so sat neatly within a 1/4 mile of overpriced artisanal coffee shops in one direction and a higher than average rate of knife crime in the other) was the roof terrace. The whole footprint of the house, it was a hidden gem, a little oasis away from the mean city streets - a place where we could pretend, whilst sipping homemade espresso martini's that we were still young and cool, as oppose to exhausted and out of sorts. Who would mind staying home watching the pennies (and the babies) with a space so divine to inhabit?

“I love our home...It's not in a village but on the 'border' of a London village - so sat neatly within a 1/4 mile of overpriced artisanal coffee shops in one direction and a higher than average rate of knife crime in the other.”

Scrubbers

At first the novelty of having outside space meant we sat outside on even the coldest of nights, spending our Saturday's scrubbing the decking that turned to a mould coloured ice rink under the merest hint of rain. The fear of small children throwing themselves over the side, prevented us from using our roof terrace during the day, but the evenings were full of blankets and talks under the stars. But then, like all 'new' things, the roof terrace got old. We resorted to evenings in front of the fire - and more specifically the box, allowing our addiction to vintage episodes of New Tricks (by this point I'm guessing you know we're not that cool) to eclipse our appreciation for our secret space.

"One of the great things about leaving my full time desk job, is rediscovering my home."


All about me

One of the great things about leaving my full time desk job, is rediscovering my home. The sun is out today, and I've spent the day working from my garden, followed by lunch on the roof, even managing to fit an hour in at the gym before picking the kids up from school. On a day like today - life feels damn close to perfection. But while flexible working feels ideal today - the truth is, for a woman who thrives on routine, its not always as easy as it looks - and honestly, the money, the money, the money. Full time desk jobs bring certainty, money and security - so whilst I'm returning to my roof, I'm also starting to get those uneasy dreams again. The ones where I'm drowning under the weight of a new boiler or the need to re-tile the bathroom - the one where the money flows out like a river, but stops short at the edge of the sea. Don't get me wrong, this semi sabbatical was a calculated risk. One stored up for a rainy day by working late nights and long hours - I earned this, and in many ways I can't afford not to do it. Because I need to return to me. Like my long ignored, but perfect little patch of outdoor space, I've stopped appreciating who I am and what I have to offer. And yes, the bathroom needs retiling, and the boiler might be on the out - but for once its not about that. Its really, really simple and really quite selfish - but as I prescribe to the 'put your own oxygen mask on first' method of family management, I'm going to say it out loud. Its just, about, me.


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