The paint on the walls is peeling. When we first moved in, my housemate didn’t have a bedroom door. We are constantly at war with our neighbours who let their friends park in our spots. Our toilet regularly clogs. We don’t have heating. Or air conditioning. And yet, our house is the best thing that happened in 2018.
This year in May, I moved out with one of my best friends. We moved into the bottom floor of a terrace house, in the inner west (the cool part) of Sydney. We moved on a whim, and found ourselves driving to MacDonald’s at one am because we needed to pee, using torches because our electricity was out again, and huddling together around my laptop to beat the winter chill, while also catching up on the latest murder documentary.
I’m not sure if it is just us, but 2018 was a bit of a hellfire. We were unhappy in our work lives, we had our hearts broken by boys, and dealt very poorly with our mental health. We moved to this house because we didn’t quite know where else to go, and thank god we did. There is nothing quite like coming home to a house that is falling apart, but knowing that you will be greeted inside with an understanding face, a blanket, and some tea, ready to talk about the crap that went down that day.
In the particularly terrible months (June, I’m looking at you) I found myself just following my housemate around as she got ready to go out, asking her questions I knew would reward me with long stories. I would follow her from her room to our bathroom, watching her put on makeup as she told me the latest on her life. I would curl up on the couch as she left, waiting for her to come back. And she never questioned me, never made me feel like I was an idiot. Being cared for like this is what it felt like to have a home.
In the even worse months (August, you sly dog), she would let me mope in my room alone, because she was doing the same. We wouldn’t see each other for days, just passing each other like sinking ships in the night, and I’d hope she wasn’t feeling as bad as me. She’d hope the same for me. When we would emerge from our shells, we would laugh and laugh about how silly we’d been, but ever so slowly retreat back, allowing space for healing. This kind of understanding was what it was like to have a home.
As the sun came back out, the bugs came out as well (cheers, October). I woke her up with a scream at one am, because a mutant flying cockroach was in my room, and I was not capable of killing it myself. A team effort was involved for the murder, and then we both went outside and sat on the porch to calm down, the inner west locals stumbling home from a big night, wondered what was wrong with us. This kind of camaraderie is what it felt like to have a home.
When people come over, we joke about the parts of the house that are a bit crap. We know that it isn’t the most spectacular place to live, but these people don’t know about how our home helped us weather the storms of the year. It sheltered us when we were in pain, held us when we were in tears, and kept us alive when we couldn’t do it ourselves.
Our house is falling apart. But we didn’t because of it. We had love, understanding, and friendship keeping us whole. Sure, we don’t have any cushions for our couch, but we have each other.
Azra is a creative writing Master’s student from Sydney. She’s spent the last couple years backpacking, but mostly getting lost because she can’t read a map. Catch her lying her way through a conversation about a T.V show she’s never seen, or suffocating under a pile of books she will find the time to read. She contributes to Junkee and Hostelworld. She also posts too many travel pics over on Instagram.