We live in a flat that straddles two streets. A commercial high street on one side and a quiet residential road over looking a park on the other.
We arrived in London in late November. Spent a few weeks at an Air BnB while we went hunting for a place to rent. My husband was working so our son and I spent most of the days calling real estate agents and viewing properties.
After a particularly disappointing viewing we walked straight into another local real estate agency on the corner of the commercial high street and told them of our situation. The flat needed to be close to public transport, close to my son’s school and within our budget. And we needed one fast.
“I think we may have the perfect place for you,” the estate agent responded. “It’s just come on the market and is on the other side of this street.”
That afternoon, as the rain drizzled down and the sun disappeared, we were shown a two storey apartment on top of a restaurant. The kitchen was a decent size and overlooked the park. The flat had a huge balcony outside the second bedroom. It felt like we could be happy there for some time. It felt like we could make it our home for a while.
There are a lot of homes on our street facing the park. I see people chatting to each other from a safe distance as I head to the supermarket to do my daily shop. I watch a little enviously as we haven’t made those connections with our neighbours as yet.
I have heard them make some noise though. At 8pm one night almost everyone came out of their homes to applaud the carers working for the NHS. To thank them and encourage them to keep doing what they were doing. For a full minute, cars went past honking their horns, people whooped and cheered, and they clapped.
Since that night drawings of rainbows have been cropping up on windows up and down our street. A sign of hope and encouragement from the children inside those homes to others on the outside. Keep smiling, one of them said. Thank you NHS carers, another wrote.
I walk past them with bags laden with food from my daily shop and they make me smile. They remind me these strange days will pass one day. They tell me there are better days ahead.