It’s 5 am on the 1. January 2022 as hotel guests return from their New Year’s Eve, sneak past the Kingsland Locke reception to catch the elevator to dreamland. Two guests decided to stay down. And decided to be friends.
It was 4 am and I was just about to drift off to sleep in my cosy room with the promising number 420 when my phone sent out a reminding sound. My order was due to arrive. ‘Order of what? And why are my bedsheets soaking wet?’, those were my blurry thoughts. It took me a few minutes to assemble the pieces of the night before. Well, it was going to be 2022 and I had dressed up nice and worn those ridiculously high heels to celebrate that. But I danced as if I didn’t (classic Kaddie.). And therefore sprained my ankle and my swagger. Ouch. The sheets were soaking wet because Paulina from reception caught me limping through the doors and was kind enough to fetch me a bag of ice cubes before sending me off to bed. It was a fun night, yeah.
While all of this was easy to reconstruct because the pain was so present, I still couldn’t figure out what order was due to arrive. My phone informed me that I had ordered about 6 EggMcMuffins and fries and what seemed to be the whole McDonald’s McBreakfast menu. Well, I guessed that the fall from my heels had also killed the vegan in me.
So I limped downstairs and waited for the food delivery man who said was ‘Arriving now’. Paulina was quite surprised to see me after just having successfully navigated the party wreck to bed - about 20 minutes ago. I really hoped she was hungry. Locke girls Ola and Paulina were both troopers who had spent their New Years Eve at the Kingsland reception. We chatted away about heartbreaks and big dreams, while I persistently offered them EggMcMuffins and the girls just as persistently declined. Sadly none of them were into it. Me included.
What I learnt about Ola that night was that she is an incredibly talented photographer. What I learnt about Paulina was that she was much better at dealing with toxic relationships than me. I had been living at Kingsland Locke for a month and seeing these girls every day made me feel like I was returning to a family. They’ve seen all the versions of me pass through those hotel doors: fancy going-out Kaddie, business Kaddie, COVID Kaddie, horribly hungover Kaddie and on this night: still a bit drunk pyjama-Kaddie. Yeah, that’s not the best version of myself.
At about 5 am another guest entered the reception room and was on his way out to grab a cigarette. Ola shouted: ‘Wait David, you gotta meet Kaddie, she’s a long stay guest too.’ And this was a double-winning moment because not only was David just as drunk as me. He also had cigarettes.
So I limped out on my socks in my silk pyjamas to smoke. And while I was strategising on how to make obvious that this wasn’t in any way the right moment to flirt with me (girls will know that a lot of drunk men can’t read the signals), David made me feel comfortable. Even if I was standing in socks and pyjamas on the freezing Kingsland Road: ‘Yeah, don’t worry about me, I’m gay, so not going to hit on you.’ But he was drunk and I was drunk, so one thing led to another: We’re going to hang out a little while longer. 2022 hasn’t quite kicked in, so we were ready to reminiscence about our past. We had a lot to catch up there.
What I like about David is that he says the phrase ‘long story cut short’ a lot. Not that I’d ever want him to cut a long story short - he is an incredibly interesting person with a similarly unsettled life like me. But at the core of the friendship that began that night is the fact that we were both ‘long stay guests’ and even though our story was short, it felt like we had known each other for long. When you live a nomad life it is moments like these that make you realise that things being temporary, don’t necessarily need to feel that way.
After continually shamefully passing by Ola to have some more smokes that same night (or day), it was clear that we had a lot to thank her for. First, for introducing us to each other. This wasn’t the last night we hung out in our shared home away from home. And secondly for making our short story last long.
P.S.: I started my 2022 with microwaved EggMcMuffins the next day.