So I’m voluntarily between homes right now and I didn’t pack the right clothes. I have only the jeans I’m wearing, and shoes that don’t really match, but if I wear a headscarf with everything at least I’ll look like I have my PhD because everyone knows PhD candidates have great headgear?
Did I mention I really wanna go back to university? I say it and then I change my mind and then I forget and remember and forget. Being homeless and travelling and reuniting with old friends reminds you of what you really want. I want to learn some more. I forget how nice it is to remember.
I left my old home on August 4th, and my new home won’t be ready til the middle of September. That’s six weeks of sofa surfing, and it’s an adventure and crazy and home-is-wherever-I-lay-my-headscarf except not really because as kind and wonderful and amazing as the generosity of my friends has been during this transitory time, if they own matching plates I hate them. I hate them if they have a special place for their baking ingredients, and if they just got a new coffee table, and I hate them if they’re all fucking settled and organised because the only trousers I own, like I said, are the jeans I’m wearing, and what happens on wash day? I have to sit in their living room in my underwear.
I ordered a galette from him on Broadway Market, mainly because the rain had started and it was convenient cover. He asked if I’d ever had one before. I’m not sure, I told him, I must’ve. He said if I had I’d know it, so I was lucky that this galette would be my first because his galette was the best. Start with the best the world can offer you, he said. We all deserve the best.
We chatted. Vanilla Toes joined us- she’d decided not to get the soul food after all; the line was too long. Vanilla Toes makes friends wherever she goes. I think the Algerian who served her coffee was hitting on her and the Jamaican man at the side of the road laughed from his belly at her joke and now the Frenchman, Dominique, was asking her to define happiness.
He told us happiness, for him, was three things, but those three things have to come in order. One, respect. Two, kindness. Three, passion. Too many people think passion is happiness, he said, but it isn’t because it burns out. It fades quickly. We need passion to feel alive but what we need more than that is to respect one another because nobody asked to be here. He said we have to be kind because it’s too hard not to be.
I keep thinking about Dominique.
We all made dinner together on Saturday night. Visiting my brother at his apartment doesn’t feel like visiting where I used to live. I know where the kitchen roll is kept but it feels alien to me to be there. The wind picked up and it seemed to get dark early and the five of us chopped and washed and roasted and we were largely quiet. The night before had been a heavy one. It calmed me.
At the pub we started out as a two, grew to a three, moved inside as a four. We became an even bigger muddled bunch, and I like it when that happens. A visitor from Brooklyn with the girl she worked with once in Italy but who used to room with my brother at university because the world is small. My brother goes climbing with her boyfriend, and also brings along a girl whose brother I used to sit beside in GCSE Geography, because the world is small. Everybody knows the costume designer, and her boyfriend bought a round in so we liked him.
We ate and drank and read the papers. I said I felt sad and everyone said it’s because I’m in the awkward changing phase and by this time next month I’ll have forgotten feeling like this at all. I’m too black and white, my brother told me. That’s hard when you’re in a shades of grey phase.
We played Jenga for a little bit and Scrabble for a lot longer, and everyone lost their temper because they tried to play words that weren’t real words. We agreed to all have one more turn each, but on my go they said E.T. was an acronym and wasn’t valid, but we’d played it across two other words and racked up almost 50 points with it, so I got cross and wiped all the tiles off of the board and watched them fall to the floor and killed the game for everybody.
I felt better after that.