Saturday, 2 March 2019

From Strangers to Flatmates

Last Saturday night, as Malta faced one of the worst ever recorded storms in the island's history, I sat in the small kitchen drinking a beer and swaying to an assortment of music videos suggested by myself and four of my five flatmates in turn. (Thinking about it, my current living arrangement sounds like something out of the BBC series White Heat, about which I had written at length here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com/search/label/White%20Heat).

The cosy and friendly atmosphere prompted me to comment on how in the three months that I'd lived with the previous flatmates in the same flat, this thing had never happened. Meanwhile, three more months spent in a different flat-share last summer had yielded an even more bitter-sweet experience.

I like to think that I am on a kind of Sabbatical, albeit a forced one. One year of living with strangers out of necessity, but also my first year of living totally away from family which in itself has given me a new autonomy. But back to the topic of the day, living with people who are neither family nor, in most instances, of my same nationality, has opened up the possibility to really grow mentally. I was never really racist but I do tend to be quite guarded as a person and previously would never have even wanted a friend to stay over let alone share my living quarters with someone, or in this case five someones, that I did not previously know.

I grew up in a home where we were very reserved and I remember thinking it very strange when a relative or other of my ex husband would invariably pop into his mum's home without prior notice. Yet here I am now, so happy for the good company that I will definitely miss the long chats over tea of an evening or whilst cooking, as well as walking into 'my' kitchen for breakfast to find one of the other girls there. I have found my multi-cultural rental a real 'home' away from my home and were it not for having my son currently living away from me due to the living arrangement, I would be very content to prolong this sense of comradeship. In fact, just thinking about leaving in a few months makes me kind of sad. We will say we'll keep in touch, and maybe we will. But by now I know very well that distance does damage to any kind of relationship and that family life will almost surely gulp me up in a new lifestyle that will differ to the one I currently enjoy.

Gratitude helps in any given situation and I am finding it easy to feel grateful for sharing my home over living totally on my own. Nothing beats sharing good news and bad, feeling safer when the lights go out in the storms or simply laughing my nerves off. I even enjoy sharing my hairdryer and feeling useful, as well as the fact that we are causing less of a carbon footprint than if we were all of us living on our own.

As previously stated, my experiences with some other flatmates had not been as sweet so I could never draw a line and say I have loved the experience all through. However there is always a good and bad side to each story and I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to experience this lifestyle for myself. As it is said, it is much easier to try something when you know you have a way out and my safety net is my new flat. So I will enjoy my last few months of this hippie way of life before entering a new phase in life.


2 comments:


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