Remember how last August I was homeless for 6 weeks? That the third housemate in my brother and mine’s apartment was a coke head, and so I left without a plan because I could not bear watching his three-day come-downs on the sofa a second longer? And then I moved in to what I thought was going to be the house-share of my dreams, with a girl I’d come to love like a sister in the year I’d known her? Well. I never did finish that story.
3 weeks into my move, alarm bells started ringing, and within 4 weeks I knew, in my disheartened gut, instinctively, that it wasn’t going to work. Not only did my new housemate turn out to be apologetically sociopathic – this blog post was about her - but she also wasn’t very good at using the extractor fan when she cooked, so the house always smelt, and whenever she’d been in the bathroom it was like an Alsatian had shaken itself dry in there i.e. gross.
Last September through November was a nightmare for me. An abusive nightmare. The situation escalated to a point where my housemate actually threatened to sue me for moving out -- even though I’d never signed a contract and I’d given five weeks’ notice, assisting in every way possible in making finding a new roommate. It seemed as though she wanted to make living with her as hard as possible – and leaving even worse. There was no reasoning. Like I wrote, I couldn’t find an amicable way through it and it killed me.
I kept quiet on the blogging front when it came to my new living situation, about my move out to West London with friends I know from my Italian teaching days. I didn’t want to jinx it, but also I was embarrassed to be moving yet again. I mean, what the fuck is wrong with somebody who hates everyone she lives with? (Except my baby brother. He’s the Best Housemate 4 Lyf xoxo). I desperately needed for this time to be better, and I figured I’d shut my big fat gob up for once, acting now and talking about it later.
I’m ready to talk about it now.
In the same three-month period that I lived with a mentalist there was no understanding, I started to go to my friend Amy’s house once a week to watch the Great British Bake-Off, eat cake, and reminisce about our glory days in Sanremo sunshine. I’d stay over, mainly as an excuse not to go back to my own sorry flat, and quickly got to know her other two housemates.
The whole house is from a theatre background, so we’d harmonise show tunes and dance in the kitchen as we made dinner. We found the same things funny, and every Wednesday morning the man of the house, Phil, and I, would hop on the Central Line together to work and chat about our days and our lives and basically I fell in love with him and his homosexual self.
Tuesday nights became the highlight of my week, and I’d sit in their kitchen watching, amazed, as Amy, Phil, and their third housemate – another Amy – would cook for each other, setting aside extras for lunch the day after, and discuss group food shops and ask about That Thing At Work with genuine interest and investment. It was like bearing witness to a family. A family who had chosen one another, and pledged to look after one another, all without too much smothering. Everyone had their own lives, and everyone knew if that life kept them out late one night, somebody else would’ve made dinner and kept a plate warm in the oven for them.
They argued, of course, especially about crumbs on the sofa and how best to dispose of bread in the compost bin. But they also respected each other’s wishes too: no stabbing the butter as it drives Phil mad. Be super quiet if you get in late because Amy’s room is downstairs and she hears everything. The other Amy likes to nap, so let her sleep in.
It was a stark contrast to anything I’d experienced before, especially in London. There was so much love happening that I often found myself thinking, Gosh, I wish I could live here.
‘Gosh, I wish you could live here,’ one of them said to me after GBBO finished one evening, and they’d taken the piss out of me for my reactions to Mary Berry’s food porn.
‘ME TOO!’ I cried. ‘I’d do anything to live with you guys. I love it so much here!’
By December 1st I’d taken the fourth bedroom, mentally noting to myself that I had the chance to become part of something really special. To suggest living here has changed my life would be an understatement. It’s change the very way I feel about myself.
They say that in the history of the world, people have only ever argued over two questions: who is in charge? And how much do you love me?
For the first time in my house-sharing life I know the answers to both of those questions. Who is in charge? As the one with the power tools, Phil is – obviously. And how much do they love me? Fucking shit loads. I know because they tell me so every day. I'm part of the family.