You have to come pick me up. I know it’s an expensive pick up, but as much as I love you, you’ll want to make sure I actually get on the plane. You might have to push me through the gate ticket check. And peel my fingers from the door frame so the plane can depart.
Plus, I need your luggage allowance. I’ve got a lot of stuff.
Three years ago today, one of my lifelong girlfriends left me, Crunchy husband (who was then Crunchy boyfriend without the Crunchy because the concept hadn’t really gelled yet), and 128 kgs of my possessions (minus however much the 3 pairs of underwear I allowed Crunchy man to bring on his way out) on the curb at SFO. I’d been crying for weeks on end, getting ready for the big departure, but then my body never seems empty of tears at emotional times.
I was leaving home. Further than I ever imagined I’d leave home. It beat out my two-hour drive from home for four years of college by 8 time zones, fluctuating but never cheap and usually overpriced plane tickets, a very large continent and a massive body of water. I was pretty sad. That might be an understatement. That might be another one. But, hey it was an adventure, right? (And after 2 1/2 years of a transatlantic relationship, it was time!)
Woo-eee, did I underestimate the road that lay ahead. I don’t think I quite understood the depth emotional isolation and loneliness could take until I moved here. Which is not to say that the people I met in London initially are not all kind and interesting people. We just never meshed. Or, maybe it’s better to say I never meshed. I think when I first felt I might be “scaring” people, I pulled back. Having been fairly extroverted my whole life (another understatement?), I don’t think I knew how to play by those rules. How do you be reserved and sociable at the same time? (I still don’t know.) I adjusted too far in the opposite direction. I became introverted and socially anxious. To me, everything I said sounded garbled and incomprehensible. Temporary relief (in the form of denial) came on weekends when I could train it up to West Yorkshire and be with the Crunchy man. But, I subsisted in a haze of social and academic dread, poor confidence and low self-esteem. Dear god, it makes me cringe just thinking about it. It’s probably how high school could have been if I didn’t have an amazing group of girlfriends and supportive parents.
I felt completely alienated from myself. I missed the old me, and wanted that person back, but I didn’t know how to return. Which is to say, I didn’t know how I could bring myself to get there. When you’re down, sometimes it’s really hard to do the things you need to do to pop back up and get your game on. Or, at least to do them as quickly as you should.
First year done, and I moved again. Me and the Crunchy fiancé were going to be together, not only in the same timezone but in the same location, for the first time in nearly 4 years! I have to say though, my memories of the Saltaire ‘hood are swathed in wedding preparations, visa stress, and well, looking forward to going home for Christmas. Except– for the sheer delight it gives Crunchy husband to say its name– who can forget Fanny’s Ale House? And the hills. I miss the hills. And runs along the canal.
We didn’t remain in West Yorkshire for very long, especially not me since for a good part of that period I was back in California waiting for the Brits to cash my check and let me back in. We moved to Kent in the spring of 2006. Overall, I have to say I am happiest here. The first year rivaled London’s isolation, but it’s gotten much better for many reasons, some explicable others more underlying and subtle.
I have learned to live without Noah’s bagels, Jamba Juice and chimichangas from Tlaquepaque. I’ve learned to be sparing with the pancake mix, peanut butter and tea I bring back from the US. (Thanks to the internet, I haven’t had to learn to live without my KFOG. Sometimes I pop on the morning show while I cook dinner.) But, when it comes to being over 5,000 miles away from the majority of the people I love, some days are better than others. I don’t think I will ever fully learn to live without my ‘rocks’. And I don’t want to become the person who can. There are some things that just can’t be left behind.
I stand here today a different person than I was even 6 months ago. I lost the spirit that warms and fills the shell for a long time. I existed outside, beside, underneath but never deep down inside myself. But, I feel like I am rediscovering me and getting my smile, my laugh, my life back. I feel like I have two homes.
Thank you, Crunchy husband. Thank you for understanding. And caring. And being patient. And being prepared to spend most of your 25 1/2 vacation days a year in California. Thank you for supporting me, believing me, and loving me even when I couldn’t support, believe in, and love myself.
Now playing: U2 – Walk On