Don't ever leave me!
As I've mentioned a couple of times before, Paul and I are moving out of our current shared house into our own little flat in Chapel Allerton. I am excited to have a guest room, a gas hob and a pantry in the kitchen, and my very first piece of real life furniture - a lime green corner sofa which doesn't go with anything else! Exciting stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.
Until then, we're residing in a little (big) house in Meanwood, with three of our friends; four if you count the girlfriend who lives with us half the week, and who we'd happily have there every night if she didn't have a cat that would kill our other very-allergic housemate.
That's a lot of people sharing one bathroom, I'm sure you'll agree. Communal living is not always the most agreeable way - everyone has a way they like to load the dishwasher, and squabbles over reality TV vs. documentaries are rife. But in my eyes, the positives have always outweighed the negatives in this situation. You may have heard me say it before, but my ultimate goal in life has always been to make my life look like an episode of Friends. Not the one where Ross and Rachel break up, hopefully (sobs). And right now, that's kind of how it feels.
Everyone keeps saying to me that there comes a time when you 'outgrow' shared accommodation, that you start to need your own space as a couple. But honestly? I don't think that's the case for me. If we could have a guest room in our current house, and maybe an extra bathroom, I would be happy as a clam to continue living there. It is the house itself, rather than the fact of communal living that I have outgrown. So I am having major separation anxiety about moving out, concerned that we will lose touch and that my life in Leeds will become lonely - for a boyfriend is certainly not a full and complete social circle.
The notion of chosen families has always intrigued me. It is not that I do not love my 'real' family, because of course I do, but I live very far away from them, and it is this chosen family who I share my Sunday roasts with and my life more generally. I think it has turned out this way for a lot of children of my generation - as the world expands and the economy becomes global, as we are encouraged to go off to University and beyond to seek our fortunes, how many of us are living with friends, rather than family, and depending on this chosen family for support rather than our more traditional channels?
This family is no less real to me because we are not connected by blood, and we've all been getting a little nostalgic at the thought of our little group splitting up. The difference between chosen family and 'real' family, I suppose, is that the ties are all the more fragile - your mother will always be your mother, but you are expected to grow apart from friends as you 'grow up' and form your own little family units. I'm not down with that.
And thus, the separation anxiety. It will be kept at bay by weekly dinners, TV dates and our usual social gatherings, but having lost friends before, and seen so many of Paul's friends, and indeed the friends of my parents, drift apart as they have children and grow up, that anxiety will still remain.
Do you have a chosen family? Do you think that we need to 'grow up' and move out, or are you perfectly happy to stay put with the piles of dirty dishes and the conditional love that comes with them?