The white laminate tables are adult sized but littered with gaudy coloured plastic plates. On the top table I look for a spoon for my cereal but all I see are some little plastic teaspoons and plastic knives. Luckily my tea is in a mug. Along with my chair, it convinces me I’m not in primary school. Then satisfied that I’ve got my morning cuppa, I take note of the faces around me. There’s a range of tired faces, apart from the four Australian girls animately talking about their friend Mary’s baby and not talking about sightseeing as I would expect from a hostel. It’s the kind of place you ask, “Why are these rows of faces here?”. This is a central London hostel (Smart Russell).
It’s not a youth hostel. Not a hostel for the homeless (or is it?) and not a backpackers. These all distinctively provide accommodation of some sort. This hostel, like many modern hostels, particularly due to its location, it’s now a merger of all three serving a variety of needs. Budget dormitory style accommodation but without the soulful travel vibe of a good backpackers. It’s not only for the young, the wrinkles here on some of the faces surprise me. It does house the homeless but not for free. Tracey in my dorm, a short stout woman probably in her late forties has been here for three weeks, while she is “sorting herself out, you know what I mean?”.
This is not a glamorous lifestyle but as I pick up a raisin with my little spoon I smile at this plastic little spoon that makes me feel like a child. When you are child the world is still full of possibilities. New experiences, new understanding come in a steady stream and if we’re lucky we swim along. As we become older it becomes a little more tricky, the currents become stronger, we have to kick using stronger leg and learn to choose which stroke is best used to face the changing currents. At times when we are adults, it can feel like we are swimming for our lives.
My little spoon and useless plastic knife bring new possibilities and in my world I’ve allowed myself time to splash and paddle. My adult security does not come in the form of a house but as an internal feeling knowing I’m creating my own future and not just swimming against the tide.
Thank you little spoon.
ps I would highly recommend that Smart Russell London get to Ikea and buy some knives and spoons to save on such wasteless rubbish generation.