Warning: I’m going to gush.
Hall is a magical place. Tonight, the students lit the giant Christmas tree in the grounds. There was hot port. There were mince pies. There was a somewhat camp boy who took over the microphone and let it turn into Kristmas Karaoke. There were big rugby-looking types who gathered in a circle and sang love songs for no reason. And I was bathed in Christmas spirit for much of the occasion.
I spoke to the Warden’s wife for a while, and she was amazed to hear me say that I loved living in Hall. And I do.
It breaks my heart that most of the time when I talk to the students it’s because they’re in trouble. There is so much good in the thousand souls here, and their spirit lifts me every day.
I really have had a shitty year, but Hall is somewhere I feel safe. I’m sure I’ll stop feeling on edge in my family home eventually, and I’m sure I’ll feel confident in my PhD eventually, but I walk in the gates of Hall and I know I’m home.
And yes, there’s an air of alcoholic fugginess almost permanently lying on everything, and yes there are hundreds of overflowing bins, and yes other people’s vomit is more a part of my day-to-day life than is fully natural, and yes, the average resident was born in 1993 or 1994, at which stage I had a fairly complete set of pubic hair, but it’s home.
All the Christmas tonight was making me emotional. I needed a hug, and I asked for a hug and I got one, a most excellent one, from one of my Boys who was at the Christmas tree lighting.
And I never need to feel alone. I may have put on nine stone of armour over the past four years and withdrawn from the world in many ways.
But I have a motley crew of residents, of Assistant Wardens and of former residents surrounding me. I really have no idea where my future lies, whether or not I’ll ever have a family. I don’t know if things will ever be normal with my own family, and with thirty years of singlehood behind me, I’m not sure I’ll ever make a family of my own. I’m damaged goods. But I’m damaged goods with a place in the world.
I’m extraordinarily lucky.