Home Alone in London

Posted on October 8, 2018

It wasn’t until the first night in my new house that I realized that I was truly alone. Aware that I was in a different city, disoriented and unsure of what I was doing in London, I tried my best to collect myself. To calm my nerves, I began talking to myself, saying things like, “Great idea Alta! Let’s move to a new country where you don’t know anyone. Sure, why not move into a new house with no furniture or kitchen supplies, and with a limited bank account! What could go wrong?” Surprisingly, this didn’t help.

As I lay in my bed, trying with difficulty to sleep despite the jetlag, I perked up at every little sound the house made. When I went to go check the locks on the windows and doors, I noticed one of the windows was open.

Without hesitation, I actually grabbed a knife from the kitchen. I walked on my toes through the house. I checked behind every door, expecting to find someone lurking. I looked like something straight out of a cheesy horror movie, but of course there was nobody. I was safe and sound. Empty house or not, I tapped into my Home Alone senses (if you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a classic and you should probably watch it before reading on). 

I began to make a complex contraption of strings, bottles, and random objects in front of the window to create some form of an alarm system. It started with a string at the handle of the window to my bedroom door. If the string was pulled on in anyway, a series of objects such as a bottle of hairspray, glasses, pencils, bouncy balls, and a trash can would fall over with a domino effect. This would obviously wake me up in the knick of time to get out of the house or to defend myself from any intruder.

I fell asleep with the lights on every night for a week. I would walk around my Home Alone contraption, trying my best to preserve its domino effect. Each time the sun would rise, I’d find myself all safe and sound in this new house. I’d laugh at my absurdity from the night before, because of course I was safe, but I don’t regret my booby trap because I know it’s what I needed to make myself feel secure in this new place.

I made sure to take down the contraption before any of my housemates moved in. I didn’t want them to think I was insane or something—you know, first impressions and all. Taking it down was a significant moment. It felt like I was moving forward into this country, city, and house, prepared to face whatever may come through the window, good or bad and everything in between.

Alta is in London to study contemporary dance and choreography at Trinity Laban Music and Dance Conservatory. We look forward to hearing more of her experiences of study abroad in Europe.

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Alta Millar