I cried yesterday, big ugly tears. I cried as I sat on the couch in my new flat opening junk-mail. One might think it was the way that Virgin Media seems hell bent on killing trees by way of repetitious marketing letters that made me cry, but no. It was because I had just moved out of a flat I loved, that meant so much to me.
I moved out for the best of reasons, falling head over heels in love with a guy that I hope to annoy for many years to come. And we have moved somewhere just as well designed, light and literally 300 meters from my old place. I am so damn excited to have moved both in terms of the new flat and the whole boyfriend thing – but there was still that tide of tears I couldn’t stem as I opened yet another piece of junk mail (this time from BT).
I lived in my little studio flat for two and a half years, and if my plot twist of a man had not come along I would be living there still. It was the first place I had ever lived by myself, the first time I had been totally in charge of bills, cleaning, maintenance, interior design and every other of the 100’s of decisions that building a home comes with. Side note: it is a real learning curve to unmake some of those independent habits, its amazing having someone else to share the load.
I went through some of the brightest and lowest times in that flat. It gave me the space to unashamedly fall apart when I needed to, but also gave me the ability to wallow with no one to pull me out. But I got through it all, and every single time I walked through that front door I smiled because my space gave me so much pure joy. The flat was my own little kingdom.
When I first moved to London I approached flatting quite differently to most OE bound kiwis. I could not bear the thought of living in a crowded flat share and was two nervous to live somewhere dodgy, so from about month 6 of my London adventure I was willing to sacrifice a lot (read: majority of my paycheck) to live somewhere safe and calm. That didn’t mean I was living anywhere nice back then, the bathrooms still came with patches of mold in the shape of Australia, and I don’t think many landlords have heard of insulation – and why the hell do they all have that same Ikea couch?
But this flat, this magical flat, it was one that I sacrificed even more of my paycheck for because not only did it provide the standard flat criteria, but it also made me happy. Sorry this is just a ramble now.
In 2016 I actually signed the lease for the flat without ever having seen it. It was a new build (imagine my joy at living in a place that no one had ever lived, in London where even the water has been through ten people before ending up in your cup), and it was either signing the lease three months before the building was finished or miss out. I took the leap and then managed to convince one of my best friends to make the same leap.
Top flatting tip: If you ever feel like you don’t have community around you, just force your friends to move into the same building as you. There is nothing better than wandering up to their flat in pajamas to watch Bakeoff, or your friends breaking into your flat to leave a new duvet on your bed.
I hand the keys back tomorrow for that dear dear flat of mine, but I don’t want to go back again to say another goodbye before I do. I don’t want to remember it empty with the furniture akimbo. I want to keep it as my little studio mind palace. The place in my heart I will reserve for all those happy, brave, sad, scared, hopeful, fun moments that I want to save forever.