Base of Operations. That is what they had nicknamed their small Mancunian terrace house. She had never wanted to live in one, it reminded her too much of the opening credits of  Coronation Street; poor, northern and common. But a serious of unfortunate events; including a change of jobs, a picky landlady and a panicking pregnant woman had landed them here. In a 3 up 2 down, on a slightly shabby looking street with no drive or front garden and neighbors that were a just a  little too noisy for him.

“I’m not even going to decorate.” she had declared, when they moved in. “This will merely be our Base of Operations. A cheap little house that will allow us to save money for our dream home.” And for the pass two years she had, almost, staid true to her word. The nursery of courses needed to be decorated. Then her mother in law had stayed with them for 2 weeks after the birth, this meant the living room had to be tarted up a bit  with some new furniture and curtains. As the baby grew safety supply’s were added, baby gates and electrical covers. Then some comforts for the little one, a toy box in the living room and a rug in the kitchen to stop any dangerous falls. When things had broken they had been fixed. But their bedroom had been left bare despite her waking up and wishing for a chandelier above her head and some retro paintings on the wall.

There were times she hated that house. Like when they visited her friends new detached 1940s house. Huge front yard, massive green back garden, separate dining and living room. She couldn’t even think of inviting her family round for dinner-she had no where to sit them. Friends seemed fine with coming over for a coffee or pizza and chips on the floor, it made them feel like they were back in uni. But everyone hated parking there! A narrow dead end and a street where the cars parked on both sides-maneuvering of any description was impossible, her father had restored to reversing down the road, dropping her off them driving straight back out again! And those days when the sun shone through the windows! Arrr! The light easily showed up all the milk stains on the black leather coach, the dust that settled everywhere, the cobwebs in the lampshades and corners, the food stained door handles-God they were pigs. But with three jobs between two of them, a baby to look after and then trying to make time for friends, family and relaxation, cleaning was something that they did in fits and starts.

But somehow despite all its faults she had never been happier. How could happiness be so simple, she had wondered. She enjoyed seeing the local children play in the street. Come rain or shine. It was nice to see old fashioned street games and kids enjoying the fresh air. It would make her nostalgic for her youth. She loved the sounds coming from the church down the road, where an unending parade of little boys and girls ran around outside in their Sunday best. Seeing such happiness was infectious. The fact that the walls of her home were thin was comforting to her, especially on those nights he worked late and she found herself alone. Hearing her neighbors chatting and running up and down stairs made her feel she was part of something. The daffodils they had planted last year were now blooming right outside the kitchen window, she loved to watch them blow in the breeze while she washed the pots.

She would ponder as she bathed in her tiny tub with her even tinier toddler, singing nursery rhymes she could remember from her youth. Or when cooking up a storm in the kitchen with her best friend, a glass of wine and laughing about life. Or when the two of them would dance in the living room to the latest Bruno Mars tracks, throwing their giggling baby in the air. Or when by 9 o clock at nigh, tired and cuddling in bed with Big Bang on the Ipad and sharing a bowl of ice-cream and he would murmur “I love you” into her hair before kissing her head…

did other people feel this kind of love? This kind of happiness?

She hoped so.