Took some time off from my studying to write this.
So about a month ago, after I came back from a climbing trip in Sardinia, I receive news from my roommate that we were being chased out of our house.
Basically, our lease ended in mid-August and we were initially hoping that other students would want to rent it for the next year and that we could rent it from them for at least another month. Unfortunately, on the 31st March 2012, all the tenants at Scala House received a letter saying that the building is stated for renovation and that they want us to return the keys by 31st May 2012.
I remember my shock and horror when I first heard the news. Literally, a thousand thoughts raced through my head. For a whole day, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else except that we all had to move out and the consequences of that – being away from Goodge Street, finding a place to stay, packing, moving.
As time went on, and I asked around, plenty of options became available. In particular, the people around me were so kind in offering help that, despite what happened, I felt quite happy because I was touched by everyone who offered me solace and help.
After much deliberation and thinking about the different choices, I finally made my decision and was pleased with the decision I made, putting the issue aside. But a few days ago, it came up again, to my utter dismay. Once again, I couldn’t be assured of having a roof over my head. At least, not one that I was comfortable enough with. Thus the whole agonizing and worrying phase began all over again. It didn’t help that the news came in the middle of my exams. But once again, thanks to the people around me, and because I like to have back-up plans, I managed to resolve my problem again. Hopefully, it will be for the last time.
The point of this thing is that it really puts things into perspective. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been thinking about it again. Imagine that I’m a working-mum with 3 children, who has just been told by the landlord that I’m being kicked out of my house. That must be even worse. Firstly, I’ll definitely have more things than I have now. Secondly, I might end up being very far from my social networks and my desired amenities/leisure activities. Thirdly, if I end up far away, what about the school that my kids go to? If I live near my work place, then I’m going to have to incur travel costs. For someone like that, they’ve got so much more to worry about, and to ‘lose’. And the thing is, it could happen as long as there’s a break-clause in the contract. Even if there isn’t, you could still be compensated, but that might not cover the inconvenience to you.
‘House’, ‘home’, ‘shelter’ are such important words. I never really think about how crucial they are to a person’s basic needs, and that’s because I never have had to worry about losing one. Especially in some societies, being homeless is not something to be proud of, even though it might not be a bad thing. There is so much ownership that is attached to a ‘house’ that even if you rent it, you would still kind of feel like you ‘own’ it. I’m not sure if this is Ann Varley’s kind of thing. She does things about houses and building, but really, a person’s relationship with the ‘house’ is such a complex and interesting thing.
The last thing is something my friends and I felt. That what happened to us is kind of a test of our mettle. How we deal with it, how we remain calm and solve the issue, how we react. It’s part of life’s experiences. In Singapore, we would not have had this issue, as we would be sheltered in our parents’ home. But having this happen to us here, is a learning experience. And at the end of the day, it isn’t all that bad and it isn’t that much worth stressing over, because there are much worse things that can happen. I’m sure other people all around the world have much worse stuff happening to them at this very moment and I’m lucky that my problem is a small one, very much within my control. Still, it is hard to tell yourself not to worry. But that too, is a lesson to be learnt.
That’s what life does. Just when you think that things are going straight, it throws you a curveball and you have to react to it. The good thing is that people are adaptable, or so some author said (it could be Malcolm Gladwell), and so usually we come off better than we think we would be.