Upstairs was faith. Downstairs was freedom.
I had a little kitchen with a toaster and a dying refrigerator. I’d taped Keith Haring colour photocopies and pictures from magazines on the cupboards. The first year I was there, I had the things for tea, and in subsequent years, as I became more independent, more food. The last summer of my tenancy, the fridge was as warm as the rest of the house, and the only cold was in the freezer, which was plugged with airplane insulation, from my cousin. The beer was in the toilet cistern.
I took home some out-of-date navigational charts and painted them with big, crazy forests and seascapes, and hung them on the walls. I draped colourful hippie scarves over the worn plaid hide-a-bed and the cable spool that I’d salvaged for an end table. I dug sword ferns out of the forest and called them houseplants, and wrote endless journal entries at the table my uncle made for me out of an old oak door.
Those were wonderful summers for me, coming home to a place that was mine.