Does everyone want to live everywhere in the world, or is it just me?
I have lived in Brighton for over six-and-a-half years now, and I suppose am fairly settled. Still, the idea kind of scares me, which may be why I have a different idea about where I want to live next nearly every day.
I’d love to live on a houseboat. I’d love to move to California or Hong Kong for a year. I’d like to live in the city and the country all at once. In an ideal world, I’d be nearer to my family.
If I was rich, I’d live in London. If I didn’t have to go to work every day and could afford a car, I’d live near my mum. If money was seriously no object, I could do both. In my ultimate fantasy, in which I win the lottery (despite never once in my life buying a ticket) or my book is made into a huge film franchise, I would spend two years living in rented flats in my favourite cities of the world – six months each in Paris, New York and LA, a bit in San Francisco, another elongated spell in Hong Kong, winter in Venice – before buying my perfect permanent base somewhere a bit more rural.
We currently live in the latest of a series of small, rented flats in the centre of Brighton. I long for the security of my own little corner of roof, but more than that I really want to be able to make somewhere our ideal home. We both spend most of our time in (as we like to call it) ‘the garret’, pursuing our various projects as well as just hanging out – I’d love to be able to make it beautiful and, more importantly, ideal. This would include: built-in bookshelves, dedicated working areas, corners that we are each allowed to decorate in our own style.
In fact, we were all set to try to buy a flat in Brighton last year – we put in an offer on a dreamily perfect place and were slightly heartbroken when it was rejected. Then the following month I was made redundant from the cosy, steady job I had been in for years and it started to feel like a blessing in disguise. It also gave me a little of the fear that anything could be just around the corner and that it’s a very big commitment.
I love Brighton. It’s such a cool place to live – a city with its own very unique identity; close to London but existing in its own chilled-out little bubble of bohemia. There’s so much here that I take for granted that I’d miss anywhere else – my favourite independent shops, bumping into really nice people I know everywhere, the music scene that is literally on my doorstep, running on the beach to a yoga class on a Saturday morning, generally followed by Vietnamese food. But my existence here doesn’t feel as solid as it did last year – I now take the train to work in a different town nearly an hour away, and as I get older I worry about being a few hours away from my family and when it will be good to gravitate closer to home. My job is on a contract, and if it is not renewed I would like to see if I can transfer abroad, as I’m now working for a big company with offices in Singapore and San Francisco.
I think of the options and I am paralysed.
Part of the problem – if it’s even a problem – is that I think I am way too focussed on the future. It’s a cliché, but I really need to work on living in the moment more. It’s like my life is so full of ‘what if?’s. The biggest of those being that I have spent my entire life working on a project that has not yet come to fruition: ‘what if my book gets published?’. Although on a practical level, it may not change my situation much; it is a huge question – and so much of my life is planned with the vague and unknown schedule of ‘when my book gets published’. Only then will I have done what I set out to do and know what my life is really going to be. Only then will I be able to make a decision and settle.
They say that Brighton – city-on-sea, with rolling countryside only just outside the city limits, and less than an hour from London – is the place for people who can’t make up their minds. So maybe I’ll stay.