Life is awkward. I think mine would make a killer indie film at the moment… and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
I’m back in England after a long, much-needed Christmas holiday in the states. Aside from drastic changes in weather and scenery, something else feels different.
I had lived in the United Kingdom for more than a full three months before I returned home for the holiday, and I like to think that over the course of those many weeks I became fairly well-adjusted. I knew the tube system quite well and I hadn’t needed to refer to a map in ages. However, upon my return the things that I felt like I had a very firm grip on before felt much more pronounced, in both good and bad ways. The changes in food still feel gigantic. I knew I had a firm grip on the lack of goldfish (cheese crackers) and Chick-fil-A prior to going back to the states, but now… I fear what I might do to get my hands on a fried chicken sandwich. Of course, I had planned for the lack of goldfish and had packed a substantial amount, but I’m not proud of the fact that the entire ration was consumed within a record-breaking 4 days. One victory that I can claim is that I haven’t caved and gone out in search of the American food store in Holland Park (this term).
I had a much firmer grasp on what I was getting myself into when I boarded my red-eye flight to London Heathrow than when I embarked on that first jump across the pond in September. A lot changed in my personal life over break, and I was genuinely looking forward to going back to London. The idea of walking into my own flat that smelled like a combination of my favorite perfume and the slightly burnt radiator sounded charming. Over the course of my first term I had gotten used to grocery shopping and cooking for myself every day. Even just the thought of meal planning sounded comforting.
The flights to come back went much smoother than any other Trans-Atlantic trip I’ve taken. I caught a train from the airport to Paddington Station in Central London then hailed a cab to take me straight to the door of my apartment building. There was no traffic that morning. There hadn’t been any delays from the airline the day before. Everything had gone swimmingly. Even with all of that, coming back has been both a blessing and curse. Having school work and the attractions of the city to distract me have been positives. However, every once in a while I would love nothing more than to curl up on the couch with my dog, a pint of mint-chocolate chip ice cream (something I am yet to find here), and some American fast food.
I had quite a ridiculous moment the other night that I think sums up the re-transitioning process quite well.
I was attempting to cook pasta at 10:30 at night. I had a series of 2,000 word essays due the next afternoon as a part of my compulsory coursework for my classes. Luckily, the jet lag hadn’t sorted itself out yet, so it was far easier for me to pull an all-nighter than it would have been had it been a few weeks further into term. It was a moment when suddenly I became almost hyper-aware of the entire situation, and it was awkward, somewhat unpleasant, and entirely laughable all at once. I found myself waiting for the water to boil and staring at my crooked reflection on the metal cover over the hob. I looked crazy. My hair was messed up, the bags under my eyes were a tell-tale sign of the time zone change, and the bright green overalls and tights I was wearing were downright comical. It was one of those moments where should it have been in the movie, the narrator would have cut in to try and explain some of the situation because it just seemed a bit too ridiculous. Alas, I don’t have a narrator designated to making sense, at least through verbal description, of my life. All I saw in that moment was the crooked reflection of a very jet-lagged character cooking sub-par pasta in bright green overalls in a foreign country.
I’m at an odd place in my life. It’s the kind of place that’s both wonderful and completely awkward. I can’t help but think I’d make an either wonderful, highly-acclaimed dramatic piece or some iffy student indie film struggling to recreate Wes Anderson. The good thing about being in a place like this is I have a lot to write about. I have a lot to laugh about as well, even though some of it is quite painful at first. But I guess that’s just growing up mixed with all the extra complications of living in another country… and in a city like London to top it all off.