This afternoon I headed into town for a potato peeler. It’s one of those things we don’t need very often (yes! an Irishman who doesn’t really like potatoes) and I hadn’t even realised that we don’t have one down here. Once I got to the mash stage of my shepherd’s pie I realised we didn’t have a potato masher either, but by the I wasn’t going back into town.
I drove past Anne’s house on my way to the supermarket. Anne, if you don’t know, is my protagonist in both Chocolates in the Ocean and Chocolates on My Pillow. It’s always been one of my favourite houses. When I was little and we would spend the summer with my great-grandmother in her house across the street, I used to play in Anne’s house. I’ve heard a rumour that it’s coming up for rent again. It kills me to think I could have that house for a lot less than what I pay for my apartment in Copenhagen.
It’s not going to happen, but I wonder what it would be like to live in the house where I set my novel. Would I see my characters sitting around the kitchen table in the morning, or catch a glimpse of them disappearing through the trees in the garden? Would they feel different once I was immersed in their world?
Every time I drive down that street I want to pull over and get out. My great-grandmother’s house has now been rendered and painted yellow. I remember it as red brick. I know we all say that our stories are fictional, but I did put a lot of my own memories into Chocolates in the Ocean. Running to the chocolate shop on summer evenings, tightly clutching the coins my father had given me in my hand, and then carefully making my way home with dessert for everyone. Leaving the house every morning to roam the quiet streets and dream in the park. Seeing framed posters on the walls for the first time in Anne’s house. Picking flowers in her garden, picking fresh strawberries and peas in my great-grandmother’s.
I love this island so much.
Even if I can’t have Anne’s house, I won’t stop dreaming of it.