25 May 2017

In defence of the Old Flat

I moaned about our old flat a lot. Any friend will tell you that I was gagging to move and my laptop keyboard will tell you that the ‘r’ ‘i’ ‘g’ ‘h’ ’t’ ‘m’ ‘o’ ‘v’ ‘e’ keys are now weak and faded. 

The flat was a tiny two-bed for what was essentially four people including our flatmate’s girlfriend. It was part of a very old building that had a lot wrong with it - it was falling apart - and as lovely as our landlady was, she was scatty, hard to get hold of and slightly, just ever so slightly, useless. 

The two guys, friends from uni, moved up to London and straight into this flat in the summer of 2013. Ryan and I had our first date the few weeks after he moved in (we went to London Zoo - I know, solid first date). Compared to the prices now, it was incredibly cheap for a two-bed flat in Zone 4, right next to a commuter station, and the landlady never increased the rent over the four years, not even when I moved in in November 2015. We had a park at the bottom of our road, didn’t have to pay for water, and the four of us got on wonderfully. 

Swings and roundabouts, you see. 

We could have stayed for a bit longer. We could have stuck it out. But our gut feeling told us to move on, up, and out, so we did. Ryan and I have moved to a beautiful, nearly-brand-new one-bed flat with a balcony, dishwasher, tumble dryer AND CARPETED BEDROOM just 15 minutes away from our old place. And it feels right. It already feels like home. 

But I’m not done talking about our old flat.
Because, completely unpredictably to me, I miss it. I’ve left a lot of memories in that flat and I was so busy bitching about it that I didn’t get to say goodbye and appreciate how it’s homed me through equally the worst and wonderful moments of my life. 

I guess this is my open letter to say sorry, Old Flat. This is how you nurtured me: 

You’ll always be the first place Ryan and I called home together. You were the place of our second date where I made Ryan watch Easy A because it was my favourite film, on the shitty little telly he had in his room. We learned to love within your walls.

You housed our first experiences of flatpack furniture from IKEA and Argos. A wardrobe and three white shelving blocks. Our first big purchases, responsibilities, and real adult arguments.

Moving in was the first time I felt exciting about relocating. Moving to university accommodation and back home again were bad times in my life, but this time I was hopeful for the future.

You were the first to hear about my new job after graduating - the job I still have now. In the middle of flatpack furniture, I took the call so say I was successful. I was about to build a life. 

You've seen Ryan through three jobs and into a solid, exciting career. We could finally afford to make the place our own, to give you a new identity from before.

We upgraded our telly and you became the owner - nay, bodyguard - of Ryan's parents’ decent old TV. We felt like we’d made it, despite not having an aerial point so we couldn’t watch live telly.

I found my love for cooking in your kitchen. You smelt different each night with the different ingredients I was discovering day by day, allowing myself to try and enjoy, and work on myself.

I became a runner in you, old flat. The park at the bottom of the road saw me run further and faster each week, but in the flat is where I grew. It’s where I sweated, where I watched and felt my body change, where I started dedicating spaces to running gear, where I booked myself into races, where I let all my feelings out about running, my body, my head, and all of it together. It’s where I became a marathon runner.

You saw no friends. We barely invited people back for there wasn't much room. You were just ours, really. 

It’s where we argued. It’s where we nearly broke up and got back together countless times. It’s where we cried, where we said nasty things, and where we learned about each other and ourselves, and how relationships work. 

It’s where we found out about loss. You kept Ryan safe when he found out about his mum’s passing until I could return home to him. It was a safe place to break down and be cared for, to remember, to be angry, and to carry on. It was home when our sense of home was fractured.

It’s where we blared out Bowie and Prince and George Michael when they were gone, and where we watched old Alan Rickman films and Victoria Wood sketches.

It’s where we booked trips away when we realised we could. When we realised life was too short and the world was too big. 

It’s where I wrote, day after day after day. 

It’s where we had our first child… the fish. 

It’s where we loved, it’s where we learnt, it’s where we lived. We lived. 

I miss you, Old Flat. Despite the faults, you served us well. You were important and we wouldn’t be here without you. But it’s time for somewhere else to look after us now and see us on the next path…

…somewhere with a LIFT and aerial point for the TV. 

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