Wednesday, February 25, 2009

moving with pride

Yesterday I accompanied Vic on a bit of flat-hunting, as she and Dan are about to move house and dragging themselves through the awful, frustrating process of haranguing letting agents into showing them suitable properties, and half the time ending up with something entirely inappropriate. Yesterday's contribution was actually rather lovely, a large, high, even two-bed in one of Brighton's nicest roads, and possessed of a wonderful, light lounge with a sea-view. Of course it had a single, bitter flaw - where it was ideal in every other respect, the bathroom was just hideous; a tiny, decrepit booth with a miniature hand-basin, 70s toilet and a shower-cubicle that seemed, somehow, to be leaning to one side.

I tried to make the best of it, romanced by the large bedrooms and the beautiful lounge.

"You won't find somewhere that has everything for the money you want to pay", I said. "There'll always be something - a small bedroom, a crap kitchen, an outdated bathroom. At least in this instance the rest of the flat is lovely. It may be worth it".

The words didn't sound quite right coming out of my mouth. The truth is that the shower room was just awful - the sort of thing you might expect to find in the backroom of a filling station alongside a motorway. It came down, Vic pointed out, to pride, as much as anything. What would so-and-so think, we wondered, thinking of a particularly discerning friend. If he wouldn't compromise, why should anyone?

I'm starting to feel really cosy in my flat - having moved in about six months ago and made the initial, perfunctory steps in home-making back then, I've rediscovered my home-making instincts recently. I don't want to live in a scruffy flat, like a student. This means I need to rein in my natural instinct towards hoarding junk, and try to rationalise my possessions. So this week I've been chucking things out, getting stuff sorted. And I've been doing other things too; pruning houseplants, arranging bookshelves, organising paperwork. When I was a bit younger I noted my general messiness with tolerant amusement - when I was a bit older, I thought, I'd be much more organised.

As it happens, I am more organised than I was as a student - but I'm aware that the transformation hasn't been automatic; I have had to discipline myself into becoming more methodical and ordered. Mostly, it's been pride that's motivated me. When I did move last year I upgraded from a studio, and did so because one night, lying in bed, I thought, "Why can't I have a dinner party? Why don't I have enough space? Other people do, so why don't I?". It was a sense of inadequacy, in part, which made me start looking.

There's a part of me that thinks that if the decision, yesterday, had been mine, I would have been bowled over by the bedrooms and said to myself, no, the bathroom doesn't matter, the rest would be adequate compensation. And I would have taken the flat. It would have been the wrong decision, I think, because it would have been an acceptance that I had to compromise on something that others wouldn't think of giving away.

Sometimes, just as you have to remind yourself to be organised, you have to remind yourself to be proud.


Anonymous said...

Just as you sometimes need to remind yourself NOT to be proud!

Sam G said...

Am I that "particularly discerning friend"? :))

Great post - I hope they find somewhere nice.