One of the many consequences of modern life is that nothing is ever permanent. Forever can often feel like nothing more than a romantic notion due to the many unexpected twists and turns that each and every one of us has to face. London has a population of over seven million people and so it’s no wonder we’re all constantly exposed to fleeting friendships, lost love and occasionally finding ourselves right back where we first started. That’s not to say that there’s no hope in sight, in fact it’s very much the opposite. It’s those unexpected surprises that make difficult times all the more bearable. They shake you to your very core and make you thankful for what you do have, rather than wallowing in self pity about what you’re lacking. One such surprise happened to me just less than five years ago and quite frankly my life has not been the same since.
I had spent the afternoon viewing various properties around countless and somewhat grim council estates in London. My final viewing was a room in a small and rather dilapidated house located on the outskirts of Bow. My optimism in finding a place called home was dwindling, not to mention my legs were weary and my throat coarse from spending the afternoon talking about myself to complete strangers. Rather than dragging out the room searching process any longer, I decided to take the final room that I viewed, at the time my reasoning behind it was nothing more than it being the best of a bad bunch. The aesthetics of my new home were undesirable to say the least, but almost instantly they became minor irrelevant details due to an instant bond I formed with a fellow housemate.
She was not much older than me, the both us still relatively new to London and just as broke as each other. Initially we laughed about how little we had in common, she liked drum and bass, and I liked the Spice Girls. She liked going to dubstep nights, and I preferred dressing like a girl and dancing on tables. Our conflicting interests were insignificant because what we both had was an undeniable amount of optimism, and the desire to do whatever it was we wanted regardless of anything that tried to hold us back, which ultimately sealed our bond rather quickly. This was inevitable especially when the other housemates consisted of a thirty year old black woman who hated other black people, and a guy who used to watch porn in the living room whilst brushing his teeth. After having lived together for six months our untimely ejection from the house was brought on by complaints from the other housemates about several impromptu parties we would throw in the early hours of the weekend.
We were never the sort to let impending homelessness dampen our spirits. In fact we used it to our advantage and found ourselves a place together. It was the mark of a new era and a home of our very own in which we did not have to answer to anyone. Almost instantly we took full advantage of this and began to live like two siblings that had the house to themselves while their parents had gone on holiday. Our first year together flew by fast and still remains somewhat forgettable as a result of too much booze and such and a serious lack of sleep. Between the two of us we had successfully managed to bring home half the male population of East London, keep every corner shop in Bethnal Green in business due to our penchant for vodka, and frequently annoy an entire estate by blasting out Lionel Richie and Rod Stewart records at 7 am. In our second year of living together we showed no signs of slowing down, if anything our living conditions became a reflection of where our priorities really lie. What was initially a two bedroom flat with promising potential eventually became a walk-in ashtray which at the time we remained oblivious to.
Even though we both shared mutual appreciation of getting wasted, it was by no means the basis of our friendship. We both shared the same notion that when times were hard you had to be creative, as there was simply no point in sitting back and complaining. When we first moved into our apartment we barely had an electrical appliance between us, instead what we did have was a radio, skipping rope and a hula-hoop, which bizarrely was more than enough to keep the two of us occupied. Our general recklessness with money meant that usually for two weeks out of every month we barely had a penny between us, so much so that we often found ourselves looting unsold sandwiches outside of Starbucks to eat for dinner or scamming the self service check outs in Tesco. We were not only partners in crime but got each other through some particular turbulent times, however nothing ever really seemed all that bad because we were in each other’s company.
Over the years it has become increasingly apparent that fate often plays a big part in the small and often insignificant details that make up our lives. For example, had that final house I saw that day not been my preferred abode then we probably would have never met. But rather than pondering how different things may have been, I take solace in the knowledge that little has changed between the two of us. Granted our lifestyles and priorities have certainly altered, for the better might I add, but what remains the same is the long lasting bond that we built together upon a solid foundation. Everyone is making their way through life along their own fickle path and so the world around us is forever changing. That’s not to say that on occasion some of the many surprises that are thrown at us can become opportunities to build something that’s made to last. There’s never any warning before it happens, but when it does, you just know.
I love you, Amy.