The first weekend I lived here, I remember meeting one of the boys coming out of the toilet. We introduced ourselves but he said he wouldn’t shake hands because his hands were wet and “they haven’t put in towels yet”. “They” never did supply towels.
I sometimes forget what it’s like to live away from home for the first time. You don’t realise what you have to get for yourself. I remember reeling in shock a bit, at the age of 22, when I broke my glasses while living abroad. I would have to buy a new pair, by myself, with my own money.
As well as lacking in a towel, the toilet didn’t come with any soap supplied. I took it on myself to buy some. When it ran out, I bought some more. The latest soap ran out last Thursday. I threw out a few subtle hints that maybe someone should buy some. Two of the boys reacted in surprise. They thought that the college cleaners had been supplying the soap. I should obviously have labelled it.
No one picked up on my hints, and yesterday, after throwing a relatively minor hissyfit on our facebook group, where I mentioned the possibility that we’d all get cholera, I bought more soap.
The boys felt guilty. They had a whip around. And they paid me, in coppers, for the soap. Yesterday was an emotional day anyway, but when the boy, who I’d first met wet-handed in September, pressed the pile of coins into my hand, I genuinely felt like crying.
I remember being a grown-up. It was nice to have my own flat to live in, to have a pension to pay into and a career to pursue. But this is infinitely preferable.