21 July 2008
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London...I'll show you something to make you change your mind...
London: Year One...
Yesterday, Sunday 20th July 2008, was my one year anniversary. I've been over here for a whole year already, can you believe it? I can't, and I'm living la vida limey, baby.
So much has happened in the past year and yet the time seems to have flown by so quickly. I've been thinking a lot about the last 12 months, all the way back to the day I arrived and how excited and scared I was. It was the first time I'd ever been truly on my own and I'd never felt as grown up. Paradoxically, I'd never felt so much like a child wishing an adult would come and tell me what to do.
Yesterday was a day for reflection. I thought about the flight over here, my longest international flight ever, and the ingrown hair on my arse which was painful enough to begin with but after sitting on it for 25 hours I was ready to cut my buttocks off with a plastic butter knife. I thought about the dreary drizzly miserable weather and how it hasn't really let up the whole time. I thought about all the places I've lived and all the flatmates I've had (3 and 14, respectively). I compared the Me who arrived here, my whole life stuffed into a ridiculous over-sized novelty suitcase, not knowing anyone, no safety net, and all sorts of expectations; with the Me who sits here writing this: am I any different? Have I changed? Have I grown? Have I achieved the things I set out to achieve? I had no idea what life would be like over here. All I hoped was that it would be interesting and challenging and I would have loads of new experiences and have my horizons expanded...and it's certainly been all of that. It seems like every week something new happens and I get to do things I would never have expected (or been inclined) to do back home.
But more than anything else I thought about what I left behind and what I'm missing out on. I don't get to see my kids grow up and share in those special moments, big and small: I don't get to see them performing with their school bands, or sit on the couch and watch cartoons, or go bowling on the weekend, or ride our bikes to the library, or sneak in at night before I go to bed and kiss them goodnight while they're asleep. I don't regret my time here, but as we all know it's easier to lament the things we don't have rather than appreciate the things we do. I've learned a lot about myself and what I'm capable of and what my limitations are and what's important to me, so for that alone it's been worth it. I've met some amazing people and had my horizons expanded and learned more about the world in this past year than I could have dreamed in the previous 36. I still can't say whether London is the town for me...it has it's moments but I still feel like we're not truly compatible; I can live here but I can't thrive here. When your life's in turmoil and you're being buffeted along by the raging current, it's tempting to reach out and grab hold of something to anchor yourself, to get some permanence. When you've not had a routine for a long time you start to miss it and suddenly predictability becomes appealing. But routine can very easily slip into rut and you find yourself making compromises to avoid having to make tough decisions. But that's how we evolve, right? No payoff without gamble, no reward without risk, no gain without pain. I sacrificed too much to get here and I made a promise to myself that I would never compromise myself again just to make someone else happy. It sounds selfish but when the shizz comes down the only person who is going to take care of me is Me. I know I say that a lot and, while I still believe it, sometimes I wonder if I'm trying to convince myself that it's true.
So what does the future hold? Buggered if I know! I've officially resigned from The Guv so the last remnant of safety net is gone. While I'll stay in London for at least another year beyond that I'm not sure what will happen. I'm not ready to come back to Oz but I haven't thought about where I might go from here. While it's nice to have options I can't help but think that maybe the Littlest Hobo in me is starting to stir again; just when things start going OK I start thinking about moving on. What's up with that?