When Your Feet Can’t Touch The Ground: My Damp Flat and Feeling Misplaced


Before I continue I just want to clarify that this is not a blog post for me to complain about my flat.

I am well aware that a twenty-something living with friends in a damp, mouldy Ponsonby/Grey Lynn villa and having an intimate relationship with her dehumidifier is almost a rite of passage and the price we pay for living in one of the coolest, most sought-after, café-snobbing suburbs Auckland has to offer.

Trust me, I get it.

But when this badge of honour became a little too real recently, and my future of living in the flat became unclear, it affected me more than I thought it would.

To cut a long story short essentially what happened was that over the course of about four weeks our flat went from being a classic Ponsonby villa with condensation on the windows to what can only be described as a fish bowl with levels of mould I’d rather not even discuss. And after ignoring it for almost a month my flatmates and I found ourselves spending less time at the flat and more at friends, boyfriends and parents’ places. There were less clothes hanging in wardrobes and more in boots of cars and overnight bags. It was like we subconsciously knew we might have to move out imminently but didn’t want to admit it; the flat felt unliveable and suddenly I felt unsettled and misplaced.

I wasn’t anxious because my flat was looking less like a chic boudoir and more like the boys flats in Dunedin I had spent the better part of four years avoiding unless intoxicated, but because I realised I’d already moved on permanently from the home I’d grown up in and now the home I was currently living in as a means to assert my independence might be slipping away too. I had overnight bags at all these different places and all I wanted was to stop floating between them.

As with most dramatic episodes of adulthood, the problem eventually remedied itself. Our landlord hired a plumber who found a burst pipe under the house that had basically created a swimming pool in our insulation. And after some stellar handy work from an array of tradesmen including a professional mould cleaner armed with ceiling bleach, we are now back in the flat and the overnight bags have been stowed away. But to be honest, we still feel in a state of flux. Knowing that we will probably have to leave the flat for good sooner rather than later.

So is this just another stage of adulthood? When you’ve moved on from the four walls you grew up in but haven’t figured out where to go next so you just float from place to place until somewhere sticks? Or is it a flaw that we need a physical home in order to feel “at home”?  Maybe we should feel comfortable enough within ourselves and settled on the inside so that no matter where we are in the world we feel at home…

I don’t know what the answer is but I’ll keep you posted.