I was recently talking with some friends about an interesting trend I noticed since living in London. The conversation itself resolved with the conclusion I now believe to be true, but I felt like sharing it with you since it seemed like an interesting and different approach to life. All this despite how similar the UK and the US are in cultural habits.
After having met a handful of people my own age who are native Englanders, I came to realize that there seems to be an alarming pattern: many people live in dodgy little house-shares with many house-mates, despite being older and more financially stable than I am. I am, of course, generalizing, and it may just be that I hang out with people who have a proclivity toward dodgy living situations, but part of my decision making process in terms of where I go next includes figuring out how I could live, if I stayed in London. Salaries are completely insufficient to live much above what I’ve often seen these people living, and it’s nearly impossible to live IN London without a great job, a trust fund, and or a couple million for that idea you sold to Google.
When I discussed this, I used the word “alarming” with my friends. To me, it is concerning that there seems to be a major portion of a generation who doesn’t take pride in where they live, or strive to move out of that situation, save when marriage or Lady Luck smiles upon them. There is not internal drive, no impetus to have a great place to live, to have confidence and pride in one’s home. It’s alarming to me because my home is my rock, even when the “rock” people in my life aren’t available. I can run away here, I can let people in if I please, and I can do basically whatever I like within it (luckily my destructive impulses are mostly internal, so the place stays nice over many years). In particular, when guests come over, I am pleased to show them my place. It’s not because it’s nicer than anyone else’s, but because it reflects an important tenet in my Code of V (which is quite extensive, I assure you): your place is a part of you, and also inspires you. If you want to be a better you, you create a living situation that is good.
It alarms me that the young English people I’ve met don’t necessarily think that way, though of course it’s entirely a matter of perspective. I know plenty of American people my own age living in shit-holes well into their 20s, completely by lifestyle choice.
A friend pointed out though that the definition of home is quite different here: home is abstract, not definite. To me, the place I’m writing from, on my bed, in my room, in the flat I share with my roommates in a building I hand-picked… this is my home. It’s a “house” in a technical sense, but it’s also more than that. This doesn’t necessarily reflect in everyone, and it might be cultural, and it might not, I’m not sure.
Even more so, my home, or my house, however you think of it, I leave it in a “default clean” mode. I try my best not to leave messes everywhere, I make my bed every day, I’ve got orderly piles of disorder… the whole place is like that, and has been for many years. Even in Indianapolis, living in a pretty run down building, it was clean. I can’t control the state of the walls or the age of the furniture, but I can control the cleanliness of the sheets and the amount of the dirt on the floor. As much as there’s a lack of pride in where people live, there also seems to be a “default dirty” mode that most people go toward.
To end my ramble: isn’t it nicer to maintain the clean and come home to a place you don’t have to clean, than manage the dirtiness and always feel like it’s something you have to worry about if someone comes to see it?
Maybe some people don’t care who sees how dirty their house is, I guess.