Gartlandia — Living out of suitcases

 
 

Thinking about life on the road as a musician, Orla Gartland writes about missing the luxuries at home and looking for that place to call her own in London

Having your own space is underrated. So, for the last five months or so I’ve been, well, all over the place really. I find myself traveling primarily between Dublin, London and Bristol. I’ve been lucky enough to tour and play in cities all over the UK and Ireland, with some European pit stops thrown in for good measure.

I guess the lifestyle of someone making the transition from Leaving Cert student to full-time musician involves a lot of boarding passes, train tickets and a highly refined skill for packing your entire life into hand luggage. I love it though, I really do.

When I first set out on my travels in June, I spoke to a friend about how I planned to sofa surf and stay with friends for the summer months. What she said always stuck with me; she said that traveling around like that must make someone feel very “free.” She was right, at first it did.

A couple of months down the line, however, and I’ve begun to see the cracks in such a lifestyle. Living out of a suitcase isn’t ideal for someone who likes their shirts crease-free. But more importantly, as someone who likes to really think, I find it pretty difficult to be so unsettled. I’m struggling to gather my thoughts, I feel like I’m losing some along the way, leaving them scattered across the map.

I come home to Dublin and need a few days to remind myself that I have my own bed and there’s a dishwasher and a couch I can sprawl across; simple luxuries I’ll never again take for granted. A family household seems like a well-oiled, smooth-running machine; the loo roll constantly and silently restocked, always enough milk in the fridge. Effortless.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love music. I feel sickeningly lucky to get a real shot at it and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. I’m forever indebted to my friends.

They have let me inhabit their spare bed/sofa/floor over the last few months, but I guess there comes a time where you feel like you’ve outstayed your welcome, and you best be on your way. However, days off are no fun when you have to spend them sat in Costa.

So, it was time to make plans. January 2014, a move to London. I’ve spent the last few days reluctantly trawling through online resources to find a room to call my own, to find like-minded flatmates that might tolerate a ginger. It’s early days yet, but the search is proving difficult.

Let’s scroll through the ads. “Looking for pretty faced, fun-lovin’ female for room share with mature gent.” No. Another tenant advertises a South London flat as “spacious, a 5 minute walk from KFC.” The mind flickers back to a classic episode of Friends where Joey searches for a “non-smoker, non-ugly” roommate. What am I getting myself in for?

I will conquer. I will stick to my guns and continue my search, avoiding ads from creepy old men and those who choose words like “crazy party animal” to describe themselves, for at the end of it all lies somewhere to call my own. Nothing fancy, just a cosy little Orla space. A room I can deck out in fairy lights and Harry Potter bedclothes, the literal dream.

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