The big event in the 1980s for me was moving from the new house to That House.
The 1980s was when we moved from Stowemarket, a small village in Suffolk, England, to Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk. We bought That House in 1981. It seemed like a decent house in a good neighbourhood. I hated it on sight because there was a dead baby bird on the doorstep when we first saw it. The previous owner had died there and never left. Buying That House meant leaving my best friend in the world, Matthew, who I'd hung out with from nursery school. I learnt to write with him, to fight with him, to run and climb and be popular with him. I even promised to marry him. We were only six years old when I left and never saw him again.
That House was on the corner of the block, one street back from the two-lane 40mph "main" road, part of an estate built in the 1960s. It had two bedrooms but we needed three, a nasty garden that had been neglected since Mr Hunter had died, ants in the back garden, a toilet seat that broke when my sister sat on it, and kitchen cabinets so full of woodworm they looked like frothy coffee. It was all on one level and painted the kind of light green they use to subdue the inmates in mental hospitals. Even the skirting boards were green.
It took two years to build a third bedroom, build a half bathroom, tame the garden, get rid of the green, rebuild the kitchen, build two garden sheds, move the fence, get rid of the peach trees, plant a tarragon bush that wanted to take over the world, pick the stones out of the garden, lay turf, weed the turf, schedule the garden blooms from snowdrops to roses, make it our own. The plan was to move out then. It's 2004 and my parents are still there.
The hall had a shiny wooden floor my sister and I used to polish. It was smooth enough that we could chase the dog from the lounge out to the hall and watch him run in place, piling up rug against the wall until he finally got enough grip to shoot off into the dining room like a fat brown comet. After he got cancer we buried him in the flower bed he used to excavate. I learnt to knit in that house, taught myself to program, practised playing the flute, tried to learn some woodwork from Dad, cleaned up and drove my first car, gardened, ate, slept, prayed, read, studied for two sets of exams, lived through the 80s. I still don't like the place, but That House was home.