To be completely honest, I like living in my own house. I've been out of home for almost ten years now. That's a pretty long time, and long enough to have a deep appreciation of one's own space. From when I was 19 until I turned 27, I lived mostly by myself, apart from living with my brother for a year and housemates for about eight months. Then I was married and now I live in our little house in the country, surrounded by pine 'plantations' (pretty poor effort considering I'm sort of a Gambier girl), streets that are far too wide and no street lighting. Despite that, I like our house. It is little. It has carpet you can sometimes spill Milo onto without being overly concerned. It has a big kitchen.
The real troubles started, for me anyway, when I started teaching. I've been in the country for close to four years now. That would be fine, except that I'm not from here. I'm not from Balaklava or Pirie or Kadina, or even Mount Gambier really. Although I have kind of liked country life, I keep having to head back to Adelaide for a whole range of reasons. Appointments. Doctors. Being with my family. Birthdays. Celebrations. Weddings. Doing actual fun things I enjoy. Buying character shoes. (Yes, I did once travel to Adelaide just for shoes. Twice.
This brings me to a really hard thing to write about. It is almost an apology of sorts.
I hate sleepovers.
No, really, I do.
I've spent a long time trying to make myself love camps and sleepovers and staying at other people's houses, and I just can't unless I have to.
I love having people stay at my house though. I love having a guest bed (I don't have a guest bedroom, and quite frankly, no one should except grandparents), I love making and baking, I like watching Bargain Hunt and drinking wine, or pretending to drink wine.
But I don't love other people's houses. And here is a list of why.
1. I have my own house to stay in.
I don't think I've actually said "but why would I stay here when I have my own house?", but I could have if I was overtired and cranky. I'm someone who once covered their roof with glow in the dark stars at 17. I have linen I like. I have soft toys who like me. Completely honestly, I really love routine. I guess when you live with someone else, even your family, breaking up routine with a sleepover is not always a bad thing, but for me, I'd much rather be in my own bed, in my own house, with or without stars on the roof.
2. I hate not knowing rules. And also, mouldy towels.
I love my family and I love the little oddities we have, but nothing upsets me more than when someone decides that the tea towel drawer is in the third drawer down in the kitchen cupboard and not the dresser anymore. And, worst of all, I still know where to find things in my parent's house in Warrnambool, circa 1993. I don't like change and I have a pretty good memory for useless towel trivia.
What are the rules though? Shoes or no shoes? Where do I put my handbag? Is this someone's seat? All of that seriously freaks me out. We are all on the spectrum somewhere, and here is mine spot. I've spent most of last year trying to work out the rules of this house, including how to correctly put in a bin liner. My brain doesn't cope with more rules than necessary.
It wasn't until I moved out of home that I actually started sleeping like a sane person. I run on eight hours sleep most nights, more if I am at someone else's, but also less at someone else's too. I will stay up late at the drop of a hat and not sleep in much past nine o'clock regardless. I have a cat who wakes me up. I am also known as a 'bedbug' at Guides because I love love love laying in bed telling the girls to go back to sleep or do something quietly while trying to get an extra few minutes shut eye. I am a mess of contradictions, and I don't fit in well with other people's schedules.
4. My stuff.
I'm a happy little magpie and I can be a pain in the arse when I don't have my stuff with me. I get stressed when I don't know where something is, I hate losing things (and when I do, it's done rarely and spectacularly). I like my WiFi and my old books and the cat. I like stuff. Other people don't have my stuff, and if they do, why do they have it in the first place?
5. The 'me-time' factor.
I find 'me-time' a revolting concept, but it's a phrase used often enough that people will nod and say 'ahh, yes, you are a Gen Y after all'. (True story, this happened the other day.) This is why I don't usually enjoy camps, though the last few times I've been away I have managed to have enough Lisa-space that I can cope without going bananas.
Seeing as I lived my myself for so long and spent incredible amounts of time by myself my entire life (yes, I'm a happy library nerd), I really love my own company, and have no worries whatsoever doing most things by myself. There are lots of things in my life which contradict this - I'm a part-time extrovert, I love friends, I hate going to parties by myself, I would never venture into the movies alone, nor would I have a table for one at dinner time.
I have said often enough that living by yourself can make you selfish. You only need one wine glass, you mostly buy food for one person, you can just have a mobile phone, when you're sick you can look after yourself without emptying the cat litter but also enjoying all the OJ you can drink. This, of course, makes me very happy, but life is not really supposed to be spent by yourself, at least not forever.
The problem with sleepovers really started when I moved from Adelaide to Balaklava. Suddenly I needed places to stay every weekend, and happily did cycles through the friends and family. But then a year turned to two, then three, and now, well into four. Most of the time I don't need to be fed, I just need somewhere to sleep, a bathroom to at least splash water onto my face before leaving for work, and occasionally, having a place to crash after midnight. I have really, well and truly, recovered any outstanding debts from anyone I have stayed with. But, also, I feel bad. I'm a grown woman, I shouldn't be waking up in spare rooms, or on couches and trying to be quiet until it's a socially acceptable time to leave. And yes, sometimes it feels like the Walk of Shame.
Why say this now, when I still have about four months to go? Four months of more phone calls the day before, or worse, a text the day of, asking if I can stay?
Because, I had to say two things, sorry and thanks.
I'm sorry I am not always a gracious guest. I like things done my way, I sometimes have plans that don't include my hosts, not that they ever truly mind. I am sorry to always be putting people out, even just in the slightest. I can be prickly, bad tempered and self-centred. I know this, that's why I'm an at-least-part-time introvert.
But, also, thank you, for everyone who keeps having me come and stay with them, at the drop of a hat, or three months in advance, I don't know what I would do without my little (okay, huge) support network. I know I am blessed every day to have the opportunities others don't, and to have a life that is one filled with pretty content days.
Lions are strong and courageous. Sometimes I'm those things, but most of the time, I just have a thorn in my paw, and I'm grateful each time someone makes it that little bit better.