Honey, I’m Home – By @chlo_gray

By Chloe Gray


Honey, I’m Home


I’ve moved around a few times since I arrived in London in 2014.

First I lived in a flat in Beckenham with a party girl called Megan. That was fun to start with. I relished in my newfound freedom, and the people constantly coming and going meant I didn’t have a chance to feel homesick. But after a sleepless month and a late record at school because there was always a stranger in my bathroom each morning, the novelty wore off.

When things with Meg got unbearable, I crashed at a friend’s house in Surrey until I found a room in a family’s home in Tulse Hill to rent. It seemed great at first. Bright and airy, Brockwell Park on the doorstep, just one bus ride to school, the family were musicians like me. But things soon took a turn. I’d be asked to babysit their two strange children while they attended full moon ceremonies and solstice parties. Sometimes they wouldn’t come home for days when they said it would just be a few hours. I was only 16 and hadn’t mastered much beyond beans on toast to feed their poor kids. When they eventually crashed home, they were always as high as the moon they had just been worshipping. That house had thin walls and I could hear everything. I’m not sure what was worse, their sex or their arguing. Both were explosive, uninhibited and frequent. 

After a brief stint back on my friend’s sofa, I found myself in South Norwood, Croydon. Another bedroom in a family’s home that I could walk to school from in 15 minutes. After the crazy instability of the hippie house, this couple seemed safe and stable. They introduced me to Caribbean food and would cook me for me every Sunday. They had a daughter a year older than me who had just left for university. It became clear that in her absence, they would parent me instead. In hindsight, I can see that they were just looking out for me, but at the time I felt trapped by the protectiveness. I was 17 years old! A fully-grown adult in my eyes. I already had two parents and hated being nagged about where I was going or if I was eating enough.

On New Year’s Eve 2015, I met a guy in a club who lived on a houseboat in Twickenham. I was very taken with the idea of life on the water, and soon made him my boyfriend. When I turned 18, I waved goodbye to Croydon and became a woman of the river. Boat life had ups and downs. Literally. The boat sank after a sharp rock pierced the hull when the river was drained the first winter I lived there. I should have taken that as a sign and jumped ship there and then, because the relationship went underwater pretty soon after that too. Somehow I stuck it out for another 18 months though.

When it was time to break up, I moved into a flat close by in Twickenham with a friend who was also leaving her boyfriend. Newly single and ready to take on the world, we had a ball at first. Then after a few months she found a new boyfriend. A brute of a man called Adam, whose diet of red meat, red wine and cocaine gave him a strained, red face that looked as if he were due a heart attack at any given moment. She moved him in and I became a third wheel to their romance. I’m not bitter. He did have two heart attacks though (and lived to tell the tale).

Last month, my Twickenham lease finally ended and I moved into another house in Tulse Hill, just two roads down from where I lived with the hippies. This one is very different though. It’s a home. The first place I’ve felt at home since moving to London five and a half years ago. I live with three of my classmates from SCA and have never been more at ease. The house is full of music and laughter and the smell of clean laundry. We drink tea together and read D&AD annuals before bed (Tea&AD), we joke about the events of the day at school. We predict which people will partner and which people will sleep together next. We dance to disco records, make up silly skits and tell each other secrets. My heart is full knowing I have such a safe, warm, loving space to come back to each night. It’s taken me half a decade, but I’ve finally found the family I came to London looking for.


Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY