Lonely in London? Why I decided to get a flat mate.
There is something about London that makes it easy to forget you’re on your own. Funnily enough, it’s the people. Pacing the streets with a sense of urgency. Surfing the tubes scrolling their phones. Filling coffee shops, lost in their books, laptops and conversations. Some smile, some say hello and some are completely ignorant to your existence though being around them feels like home. This was always enough for me. I’ve lived alone in Chelsea for the best part of five years, content to get my daily fix of people from hot desking in café Nero or a lunchtime stroll with a friend. I’ll get a dog when I’m lonely, I always promised myself despite living in flats where it was always against the lease.
Lockdown sucked the life out of London. I was fortunate enough to head home to be with my family, who hadn’t seen much of me for the past few years. I’m incredibly grateful for the time we got together. Not just because of all the Christmas pressie’s I scooped up (the socks and PJ’s definitely came in handy) though I realised how much us humans need each other. For the morning coffees and natter, evenings on the sofa fighting for the remote, cheeky glass of wine (or 4) on a Friday night. Time flew by in a whirlwind of banana bread and garden sunshine. The highlight? Being with my wonderful, hilarious Dad. We shared ears on long walks, off-loading dreams, regrets and thoughts we had both been carrying around on our own for far too long. Cathartic for our relationship and his knees.
Still come the long-awaited lifting of restrictions I was ready to get back to London. There is something this city gives me that country life never could. It’s unpredictable, full of inspiration and possibility that my soul lives for. A few months in, something didn’t feel right. Working from home was taking its toll, lack of sleep was sending me bonkers and my usual dose of ‘human’ was just not cutting it. I started to have friends over more, heading home for weekends and emergency breakdowns. What was wrong with me? The diagnosis came shuffling back into Victoria station after a weekend of fun and getting Mum to eat more vegetables. I was lonely.
I am very much a solution person. Anything with a waggly tail was out of the question and my flat was far too nice to give up. I finally had a bath! Now Café Nero has been the place I’ve had some of my best epiphanies, I don’t know if it’s the coffee or the fact it feels like a communal living room though I love the place. One usual chaotic morning three americano’s down I was tapping away at an overdue article, and I got a feeling. The American accent drew me in, warm, friendly, full of New York which it turns out she was from. The universe is always listening and when you pay attention, it delivers. Earwigging on her conversation (a writer’s prerogative) I learned she was looking for a place to live.
A hop, skip & coffee later…And just like that. I had a flat mate. The short time between making the decision and her moving, naturally I started to worry. What if I hate it? What if she put’s smelly food in the fridge? What if she messes up the bathroom? Two weeks in and I have no regrets. I knew from the very first night of chatting through selling sunset I’d made a good decision. A really good one, and here are five reasons why;
1) It’s bliss having someone to share your day with (from what you had for lunch to what you shouldn’t have said at that meeting)
2) There is more coffee.
3) You realise you are not the only one who… (long list of weird things)
4) Being at home feels more… like home.
5) Having someone to say goodnight too.
Life’s a funny thing. I’d never in a million lockdowns thought I would trade solitude for a flat mate. I prided myself on being good on my own, though hey, people change and admitting I was lonely has taught me it’s nothing to be ashamed off. We live in a world where we connect through screens, social media and robotic voices at supermarkets. Though when you are lonely, none of that stuff really hits the spot. The best cure for loneliness and joy in life? Real people.
P.S The bathroom is sparkling.