Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another solution to the two-body problem?

Today we sent over the deposit for the little house in Oxford. Saturday, we will go up to hand over the rental agreement and get the keys.

It's a great teeny Victorian terrace, built for workers on the railroad and their families, and is right next to a river. Actually, it's on an island, so is surrounded by rivers. The estate agent assured us it *didn't* flood a few years ago; we'll see. It's probably smaller than our current flat, but there are two big plusses: 1. It's got a gas cooker!!!1!!1!! and 2. It has a small garden with the teensiest plot of plantable soil. Oh, and obviously, it's not Woking!

Actually, I kinda wish maybe it had flooded, because then they'd have had to replace the gross, totally hideous, decades-old carpet they have in there. I shudder at even the thought of walking over it barefoot, let alone sitting on it or laying on it. The floor under it is wooden- I'm really hoping the landlord will let us tear out the carpets; I'm going to ask on Saturday.

As I think about all this re-locating business and after a conversation with one of The Limey's co-workers tonight, I'm reminded of something I keep hearing about over here. I've met and heard of upteen people who solve the two-body problem by keeping two residences. One half of a couple would live in a bedsit or small flat at his/her place of work, and the other partner would live in their "real" home, with the kids/pets. At the weekends, the partner living "away" would come "home".

For The Limey's colleague, the commute between homes is a 2-3 hour affair, and she works four-day weeks, going home on Thursday night and coming back to work on Monday morning. When I first started working in Southampton, I chatted to a university worker at a bus stop who kept a flat in Southampton, but went home to London, to his wife and daughter, every Friday. They had decided not to move the family to Southampton because his daughter was enrolled in a very good school in London. It took him 3 hours, a train, tube and bus to get "home".

These arrangements are apparently not out of the ordinary. City workers do this a lot, supposedly: going "home" to the leafy suburbs or countryside only at the weekends. This seems very strange to me. One of the biggest stresses when I commuted was that I felt that I just was never home, that I had to cram all my actual living into the weekends: it was work work work cram cram cram. If I didn't even have the few hours in the evening with The Limey and the cat, I don't know how much *more* stressed I may have been. Without your pets and family, what is the point, then? Plus, you know I'd try to knit at one place or another, and wouldn't have the correct needles size or whatever. I would just never feel like I was at home, then.

Also, having to catch a train was one of best ways to keep myself from just spending all my time at work. Coming from academia, it was easy for me to stay in lab far into the evening and think nothing of it. But because I, and everyone else, knew that I had that train ride home, it was easier for me to justify leaving at 6 sharp.

A while back, The Limey and I had discussed such an arrangement, but we pretty quickly decided it wouldn't work for us. Just as well, the Home Office take a dim view of such unconventional arrangements, I think. As I'm here as a spouse, it's just as well to prevent any uncertainty on their part.


mooncalf said...

Whoop! That is a lovely part of the city to live in. It'll be ace!

Woolly Stuff said...

Your new place sounds lovely. maybe don't ask about changing the carpets until you've got the keys firmly in hand, stuff firmly entrenched in the place...

LilKnitter said...

I see that sort of arrangement on that British real estate show, Relocation, Relocation, and it always astounds me (along with how a couple in their early twenties can be in a position to spend over half a million pounds on real estate, but I digress). I can't imagine living like that. I'd feel perpetually nomadic.

I like to have a nest.