Tonight is the penultimate Monday in Croydon’s very own version of Monica & Rachel’s.
When we finally move our arse into gear, our vast array of ‘J’ and ‘S’ mugs, cushions, candles and that Sex and the City boxes will be packed into boxes (still yet to be bought) along with four years of very happy, hazy, tea-fuelled memories.
Memories of what was our, first, perfectly formed flat.
The first ever flat, like so many before it for so many before us, whose walls could tell a gazillion stories and who, in a funny old way helped shaped the fake adults that walk away from it in a week and a bits time.
It dawned on me today that actually, your first flat stands for a bloody lot.
Independence. Financially. Having your own space. Not having to text your Mum to let her know that, yes, again you won’t make it home for dinner.
It stands for the reality shock that came with the first realisation you had of the true monetary value of laundry products, and for the weeks you were obliged to only eat canned goods because you forgot that turning the lights on costs real life shoe money.
It stands for moments shared away from your parents. For tears shed over dickheads over cup of tea after cup of tea. Stands for the healing power of custard creams. For life affirming conversations, whose value you don’t appreciate til much later, shared on a balcony at 11pm. It’s getting to know someone else’s habits, and having the wherewithal to only sing Adele in the shower when you know they’ve definitely left for work.
It stands for taking care of you. For cleaning up your own shit, in your bedroom and in your life. It’s doing a load of washing half cut because you might still be a party animal, but you’ve run out of pants. It’s realising what effort changing your sheets is, but realising the healing powers of doing it.
It’s having people over, to your place, and letting them have the sofa. It’s realising that bathrooms do actually get quite dirty and that fridges don’t refill themselves.
It’s having moments when you feel like you really need your Mum, but she’s not in the place you live anymore and actually you need to pull yourself together cos Mum’s shoulder and packet of Panadol aint here right now, babe.
It’s dancing round your living room in your pjs in the middle of the night, because nobody’s home and ‘this is a fucking tune’.
It’s Sunday lunches that turn into Sunday nights and having a room full of pissed girls dancing to Sean Paul.
It’s having your space to do your thing whenever you want.
And if it’s occupied it’s normally by one of your favourite people in the world.
‘cos flat mates are quite simply, great mates.
Great mates that buy a packet of crumpets the night before you come home from holiday so you’ve got breakfast, great mates that always remember to buy the loo roll when you always forget, great mates that know what your favourite mug is.
Great mates that listen to your shit when you’ve had one too many and want to put the world to rights at 10pm mid week and ones that pay you back with a boozy ‘helllloooooo’ 48 hours later. Great mates that know when to ask if you’re OK or if you didn’t make it home because of reasons best undisclosed. Great mates that know when to not bother asking if you’re OK because they know you’re you and you don’t like to talk til you’re ready. Great mates that text you from the next room to ask if you fancy a cuppa.
Great mates that fall into a non-verbal cleaning agreement with you, great mates that will help you build obstacle courses to try and get the mouse out from under your bed and great mates that will sometimes just sit next to you whilst you cry a bit and will silently play an episode of First Dates they know you haven’t seen before.
Great mates that never ask who was on the phone, but will always tell you later anyway. Great mates that start conversations with ‘do you think this is out of order…?’ or ‘oh my god so I’m obsessed with this new murder from 1992’.
Great mates that hide your birthday presents on the bog and who you can comfortably sit in utter silence with for the duration of an entire season of Girls.
The Monica to your Rachel.
The Hannah to your Marni.
And, as exciting as new chapters are, my first flat will always be my fav.
And next week as we kiss goodbye to it, and I imagine a slow mo montage of all the fun we have had (like we’re in a Manhattan based sitcom, not a Croydon based real com), I know packed up in those boxes, when we buy them, will be a bloody lot more than a few mugs and half empty nail varnishes.
Thanks for four brilliant years.
And the wickedest great mate there is.