It is a beautiful night in west London and I am happily sitting in the garden, with a plate of pasta in front of me, a glass of Spanish red wine, and the neighbor’s cats staring patiently, hoping against hope I will drop/share/simply fork over some food. Never gonna happen.
I arrived in London on Easter weekend, to stay in that holy grail of homelessness: a free place to stay for as long as I needed it. A dear friend of a dear friend set it up for me, warning that it was a bit of a construction site at the moment. That, I can handle. That, I grew up in. That was not what I found. Instead, I found the house in the midst of a 20+ year renovation, complete with missing floor boards and broken windows, but without heat or hot water. Or a shower. I was finally living my childhood dream: living in London in the 19th century. I just never imagined it would include polar fleece and a lap top for warmth. I did what any modern heroine would do; I took the first suitable short term lease I could find that didn’t include sharing a room “platonically” with a “gay” man. Instead, I moved into a flat, very conveniently located to the city, sharing with a girl who, as it turns out, dislikes the concepts of sobriety, chastity, and truthfulness. It’s not that she lies out-right, she well and truly believes she has the ability and obsessive need to clean like Monica Gellar. In reality, she’s a 19 year old frat boy who longs to star on Big Brother. Or Glee. Hard to tell. No, her problem with the truth stems from the fact that she thinking something does not make it real and experiencing something once does not make it part of your personality. Alice Cooper’s drummer asked me out one very long summer ago. Doesn’t mean I’m a rock star girlfriend. Well, I am, but that’s another story.
So now, I am subleasing a room in West London from a lovely lesbian couple. It is a nice house. It has a lovely garden. They seem nice. Should it keep going this way, I’d be mighty tempted to stay full time instead of taking up residence in my own flat, which will be ready for my occupancy mid-September. I do love a garden though. On clear nights such as this one. The downside, of course, is that I work in deepest North London and my commute from here is 1 hour 20 minutes. Once I am settled, that will become a 30 minute bus ride. But for now, I take the Piccadilly tube each morning to Camden, and then switch to the Northern Line. 40 minutes later, I arrive at work in North Finchley.
Were it not for the job, it wouldn’t be worth going. Were it not for the co-workers, that is. My job is good, don’t get me wrong. I am part of an amazing interiors studio. Small but very hands-on and I am learning a lot. I like work we’re doing. It’s high, High, HIGH end residential. Our clients are the Donald Trumps and Jackie O’s of London. We clad walls in silk, doors in leather, and think nothing of lining walls with mother of pearl. Open Architectural Digest, Its that sort of work. But the best part of it all is my co-workers. We use a 3-d visualizer, who makes computer models of everything I draw. The senior designer is amazing in many ways, but her memory for detail astounds me. My boss’s PA does a lot of the ordering for us, so she’s well versed in what we’re doing and the best place to source from. And then there is my boss. He’s a former child actor who retired, and smartly used the money to invest in businesses. He runs several, developed much of the East End of London, and has a client list I had to sign a confidentiality waiver to protect. It’s a world I cannot fathom but he, to his credit, is all about family. We work in North Finchley so he is only 15 minutes from home. His father runs the finances. His wife consults on the graphics. And he’d much rather we left at 6 to be with our families than working until 8pm every night. Unless he’s left a deadline too long, that is. He’s a bit chaotic. We’ll see how well we’re getting on in another 6 months.
So for my first 4 months in London, I’d say it’s going well enough. One crazy roommate, two houses from hell, but a decision on where I want to live (Highgate!), a job I enjoy, and a smattering of friends.
Not bad work for me.