By Precious Adesina
In my early twenties, I had a rule that I would never travel more than 40 minutes to meet friends. It was easy to stick to — I grew up and studied in central London and there was rarely a need to travel far. With adulthood, however, my priorities became less about living near the hubbub of the city or being close to the Underground and more about affordability, space and independence. And so in April, after several years of cohabiting with friends, I moved into a loft conversion in the suburbs. I celebrated living alone for the first time by rewatching my favourite TV show, Gossip Girl.
When I was younger, I had been in awe of the New York penthouses, townhouses and hotel suites that the show’s characters lived in. Their wealthy Upper East Side lifestyles were in stark (and deliberate) contrast to their classmate Dan Humphrey (played by Penn Badgley), whose modest upbringing supposedly left little to be envious of. Yet watching the show now in my rented north London studio, I see his spacious Brooklyn loft in a new light.
While many of the rich young adults in Gossip Girl had sleek homes with priceless artworks and interiors that would not be out of place in elegant design magazines, Dan’s apartment was less elaborate but full of character and warmth. There were untidy bookshelves, rows of vinyl records and sentimental trinkets scattered everywhere. It had the comforting feel of someone who, like me, spends a considerable amount of time at home and who consequently wants it to feel lived in.
Dan’s loft was a place of refuge, both for him and his affluent friends. In times of difficulty, they would peel themselves away from the glitz and glamour of their fast-paced Manhattan lifestyles and trek to Dan’s house on the other end of the Manhattan Bridge. They’d spend hours, weeks or months there plotting and scheming, hiding their secret baby or crashing after a parent had got arrested for embezzlement and lost all their money.
A couple of months ago, a friend called me to say that her partner was planning a barbecue and she wanted to be out of the house. She invited herself round for dinner at my place and I welcomed the idea with open arms. By the end of the night, her partner had ventured over after his barbecue to help us finish off our last bottle of red wine. Before I moved here, my friend and I would have gone out for dinner but now my home is a viable option. It may regularly take me more than 40 minutes to get around but it’s a compromise that I’m happy to make if it means living in a space where I, and the people in my life, can feel at ease.
Photography: Landmark Media/Alamy Stock Photo; Wikipedia