We left east London because I was sick of making small talk with hipsters in ironic 1980s outfits, trying to outdo each other with zany life choices and made-up jobs (data mentor, vinyl innovator, twitter wrangler — what the…?) So I convinced my best friend to move to Soho instead. I sold her on the alienation: “We won’t know anyone, we won’t have anything in common with them, so we won’t have to talk to them,” I said. The city would be ours; we could get lost.
We found a cramped flat in a council block, at 10 times the usual rent, crushing it full of comic books and clothes. Bee, who I’d last lived with when I was 17, surveyed the mess and opened a bottle. “By now,” she said, “I thought we would have grown up.”
I spend the days wandering between restaurants and cafes, where my friends work as waiting staff; given free coffee by one and wine by the next, gossiping until their bosses come back. Then, on insomniac nights, I walk neon streets where tourists, old boys and clubbers collide, watching street preachers shouting and couples kissing in alleys. Meanwhile, the flat becomes a beacon for lost souls; filled with friends popping by for coffee, nightcaps, or making pit-stops as they do the walk of shame home.
In the suburbs, surrounded by people at home watching telly, updating their Facebook statuses behind computer screens and outdoing each other with fantasy lives, I was lonely. But in the city, where nobody belongs, I’ve found home.
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