Corona Class #10

Make Yourself at Home

Home, we all need one. To park up our arses, stresses and thoughts for the day. It is a place of sanctuary, a place of rest and a place that can nurture good and bad habits. One of my good habits is to rinse off washing up liquid on pots and pans before they dry because, no one wants soapy stir fry do they? My housemates point of pride is, to make sure tupperware is married with lids before they go on honeymoon in the tupperware cupboard (or locale as I like to call it).

My other housemates cat, Annie, doesn’t like closed doors, as soon as a door is closed she wants to go through it. In the house Annie is Queen, the honourary head of state; she makes no decisions but, merely passes judgement on them. These details may seem mundane to an outsider but, (in normal times of course) the decisions made in the house can have just as much relevance as those made in the House of Commons.

Houseshares can be a struggle where understanding and consideration can go a little awry but having a house that feels like home is an aim that most people share. Making a house a home is a luxury you can afford when you have one and unfortunately far too many people don’t have this essential human need being met. An hour on the streets of Manchester will testify to this.

Once shelter has been achieved work can then begin on building a fuller life where emotional needs can be met too ‘Home is Where the Heart Is’ and associated cliches are often found, framed, in pound shops and charity shops up and down the country but, as with most cliches, it has an element of truth. Ask anyone who lives in a grotty rat infested bed sit, a homeless shelter or a damp student house and they’ll tell you their home certainly isn’t where their heart is.

Morrissons made sentiments

Throughout my twenties I believed that only boring, older people bought houses but as I’ve got older the allure of buying a house has become more appealing. But getting on the housing ladder just isn’t an option unless I earn £30,000 a year and I certainly can’t boast that. For my parents generation houseshares were not a foregone conclusion because buying a home was a lot more viable, when my parents moved to Manchester they bought a house for £16,000. But times have changed, with house prices steadily increasing and within the last two decades, in England, house prices have risen by 173% and the bulk of homeowners in the UK are aged between 65-74 years old.

Maybe, if I was focused enough, I could have, like most of my peers from uni, bagged a well paid job needed to bag a house but I always had the perception that settling on one path meant being boring and that I can’t be settled, and have fun, in fact, being unsettled is anything but, fun. It leads to a steady trickle of houseshares that rarely feel like home and unsatisfying jobs that rarely feel like careers.

Of course this unsettled state of mind doesn’t have to be a permanant and I am fortunate enough to have family who can provide financial help if I really need it. But, of course others are not so fortunate. The BBC has released a series called, Hard Up the first episode, No Place to Call Home features a man who shows the crew around his bedroom in supported accomodation he says that, ‘There’s no point putting pictures up because they’ll only be down again in a week. I’ve never been settled where I can actually unpack and relax….it feels like I’m always tense, my shoulders are up high, my guard’s always up.’

There are many factors which lead to homelessness with poor mental health being a common cause. For example, since leaving university I have changed addresses at least ten times and I think it would be fair to say I have lived most of my adult life in an unsettled state of mind with a common mantra of ‘this isn’t enough’ or ‘this won’t do’ repeating frequently. This restless energy hasn’t always been negative, I have lived in other countries and it has prevented me from living in situations that I don’t actually want such as, a heteronormative relationship, and 2.4 kids. But regardless of sexuality and beliefs having a persistant restless energy is more manageable as a 27 year old than a….well, I’m not going to reveal my age but suffice to say the twenties ship, has sailed.

No one believes that I am the age I say I am and I believe it’s not because I look particularly young (covid crows feet anyone?) but because of the energy I convey: expectant and ready for change. Dwelling in possibility without actually making it a reality is just as bad as dwelling in misery. Both states cultivate inaction. I may be dwelling in possibility but, I’m still dwelling in a houseshare.

I have realised that being settled is not just for boring old people, it doesn’t have to mean I commit to living in one place forever, or owning a home. Positive change comes about when I feel at home in my own skin and believe that I am good enough. From this settled state of mind, I will be able to plan a life where houseshares aren’t a necessity, but a choice.

A hidden benefit of this pandemic is, it has provided a lot of boundaries, that doesn’t allow much escape from the reality of existance which, can be oppresive but sometimes, for me, it has provided an enforced period of settlement forcing me to live in reality not, possibility. Living a life is difficult and stressful even if I land the good job, partner and house which, admitedlly I do now want. But, for now, planning for that is a lot more achievable if, I dwell in a place of calm.

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