Housemates

I once asked my grandma why she was so obsessed about me getting married. She gave me an answer I didn’t quite expect:

“I’m worried you’ll get lonely.”

But I have never felt lonely. I’ve had surrogate-housemate relationships since I was eighteen.

I lived with eight people at that point when I was a wide-eyed fresher. That become five people when I was nineteen and thought I was a little more discerning when I definitely wasn’t. Four when I was twenty one and had an image in my head of who I wanted to be. A steady constant of two others throughout my twenties as I made that image a reality until I got to just one at aged thirty one. Stephen. He too has now gone.

Though he was relatively late to the party, Stephen had an outsized affect on my life. When I was at the absolute worst of my depression in 2015, the day I felt my feet inching towards the front of a speeding bus, it was Stephen I went to and said that I needed help. Dramatic though it is to say it, I’ve no doubt I would be dead now if not for him.

But it’s not the big things I’ve missed, really.

It’s the knock at the door and a cup of tea when you’ve got a steaming hangover.

It’s living vicariously through a disastrous dating life.

It’s sharing the tiny triumphs when you’re trying to build successful careers.

It’s someone to let you in when you’re locked out.

It’s being asked “pint?” and saying “sure” without having to book a person five years in advance.

It’s been a month since my last housemate left. Looking at his room, now just a room, a room that hasn’t really been empty for nearly eight years, eight seminal years when I was just striking out into the world, I find myself realising that at this point there probably aren’t anymore housemates, not like the ones in your twenties/early thirties. There will be no one to share that next stage of life with.

I finally understand what my grandmother meant.

2 thoughts on “Housemates

  1. Hi Vinay,

    Really enjoying your blog.

    I know this an old post but just wanted to say living with other people does not have to end just because you reach a certain age. I grew up living in communes and now live with 6 other housemates in Brixton and most of us are in our mid-thirties, me being the oldest at 41. We have a fantastic time together – plenty of fun and also nights alone in our rooms when we feel like it. I know as a writer it really helps me to know that when I’ve spent days cooped up writing alone that I have a house of people to chat to in the evening and share a meal or go for a pint. Being lonely is horrible – I tried living alone in bedsits when I first came to London from Wales and didn’t realise for years the reason I was depressed was because I was alone so much. We are pack animals, we need each other. You should get another friend to move in (if you haven’t already), no need to suffer the loneliness.

    Also I read and loved your play, An Adventure – Philip Shelley from 4 Screenwriting recommended your work to me as I am an alumni of the 2018 course.

  2. Ahhh that’s a lovely comment Emily, thank you for it. I suppose I mean there’s no long term housemates more than anything but certainly yes I should be more optimistic about it.

    Hope you enjoyed the course! I still need to take the piece I wrote on it in 2015 out into the world, whoops….

    (You’ve also reminded me that I need to be posting my newsletter to this blog in some form, cheers for that) x

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