The line between being lonely and being free is fine. And no one really talks about it but I think I have more friends who are lonely than wear shit, East London clothes.
I still don’t know if I’m a little bit lonely or free as a bird. Perhaps both.
The signs are ominous:
- Routinely flicking through Tinder so absentmindedly that the beginnings of rheumatoid arthritis have clawed its beginnings into my palm. (Matching with ‘Jim, 43’ can be lonelier than watching reruns of Bullseye, in your pants, whilst eating a pasta ‘n’ sauce with a knife).
- Freezing Tofu because I can’t eat it all to myself in the allotted time once it’s open. #firstworldproblems
But I also have a frickin’ awesome time. Fly to Bali with two weeks notice? Check. Dance onstage with Madness with only 20 quid to my name? Check. Get up close and personal with an engineer whose surname I'll never know, behind a campervan in Shrewsbury? Check. Move to Brighton on a whim even ‘though I have no home, no job or no mates there? Er…yeah, OK.
So it could be that I’m free as a bird.
But to err on the side of caution, I moved from my solitary bedsit into an eleven person commune overlooking the sea. This is my fourth home of the summer. I haven’t yet learnt the names of all my house mates and we converse through messages on blackboards. We bulk buy Yorkshire tea. Sometimes a really cool kid comes to stay who plays our out of tune piano like a punk ass Lee from Blue.
I couldn’t do London anymore. London could be lonelier than Christmas or the Ready Meal aisle at 6pm on a Friday. Plus it’s really expensive and is full of huge dicks. (Not in a good way).
I certainly felt lonely in my old city life, surrounded by friends and a boyfriend. I’d watch in disbelief as my ex surfed Groupon deals to jump out of a plane, so desperate was he to feel something. Or when at the bus stop each morning I saw a familiar ex friend refuse to look at me because I had become something she didn’t want to be around anymore. Or, more probable, she had realised I was not the person she had so loved and committed to at the beginning. Plus, she was a Tory. It would never have worked out. (But still, the sadness trickled through me like diesel waiting to be lit).
And now I feel an excited pulse of being completely unbound to anyone or thing. I’ve inhabited that white feather in Forrest Gump, blowing in the wind, only trying not to land in Seagull shit (they don’t show you that in the movies).
Gumtree ‘rooms to rent in Brighton’ has become my eternal friend. Moving in summer evenings, pulling suitcases past bunting as the polluted sun set behind the scaffold of Hove and the turd new Jetson’s tower. Meeting new housemates over boiling kettles and popping toast, shaking hands and shuffling feet.
Where are you from?
How about you?
Retford town. Yeah. Pretty strong.
What do you do?
How about you?
I’ve…er…just been in an ad with Kevin Bacon? Yeah. Kind of a big deal.
All I’ve learnt from this summer of changing postcodes is:
- Drinking at the seaside is better than standing inside of the line on a Soho pavement
- The penny arcades are rigged
- Seagulls will ALWAYS peck open your rubbish if you don’t double bag.
Pretty standard stuff really.
Basically, you can’t solve loneliness by surrounding yourself with people. But if you find yourself dancing around a campfire on the beach, cutting a date short because whilst you could accept that he lived in a transit van, you drew the line at his belief in a ‘past life’ (as a hermit on the island of Lesbos), you might have forgotten to feel lonely or angry or all those other London type emotions.
And then when you get ‘home’, living with so many people begins to feel comforting and a bit tribe like. A gang. A dysfunctional family.
Lonely? No. But you will to wait a long frickin’ time for the shower.