Saturday, 8 November 2008

London on London

I have been in London a month and a day. Today I found myself wondering, if I left would I miss it? Yes and no. Sometimes I find myself actually enjoying the life here – lots of people and activity. Most of the time, I struggle to find my silver lining. When it is dark by 4:30, when it is raining (which it has been doing for most of the last week), when I am continually getting get cut off by despondent Londoners…well the list could go on…then I don’t know that I would miss it. Actually I spend a great deal of time despising it. Today I was tempted to look through the job postings back home. Here’s a troubling thought: I am qualified for basically nothing, and will be making next to nothing.

The trouble is, I still have no aspirations to take a full time teaching contract, nor do I want the hassle of renting a flat, paying council tax, utilities, signing leases, etc. I have no desire to lock myself in here. Why? Because locking myself in is a scary thought – once I am locked in, I can’t just go home. Right now, my safety is knowing that if it gets too difficult, I can leave. I have spoken with many individuals who are transplant-Londoners. In fact, it seems that most people living in London are transplanted. It doesn’t matter how long they have been here, they all have the same complaints and misery. I still can’t get over the look of sadness that most Londoners possess. I do not want that to be me. London is not a long term aspiration for me.

My realization, is that next week will either make me or break me. Once I move into a hostel, and am forced to deal with 18 year olds who are in London to party every night, and other individuals who think it is ok to go to bed at 2am and wake up at noon – well, that will be the real test. Part of me is relieved to be around other people. Part of me is worried to be the person who has to get up at 6am daily, whereby disrupting the other people in my room. But I have a plan.

I have decided to stop applying makeup in the morning (it will shave time off my morning, as well as recover my skin). I hate wearing makeup anyways. By the end of the day I feel like a I am wearing a plaster mask. Also I have decided to stop straightening my hair on days I have to work. Not that it takes me long, but I am going to blow dry it (5 minutes) and wear it partly up. Again, I don’t really like straightening my hair, and given that my hair is breaking off, I figure I will live with bad hair until Christmas. I will be the teacher who doesn’t care about her appearance. No, not true – I will still dress nicely. I have taken to wearing heals all day; I will continue that painful sojourn while giving up my beautification regime.

As I have previously mentioned, my return home date is December 22. Initially I had considered changing my date until March or April, but given my misery I will go home at Christmas for some recovery and think-time. This is kind of a double edged sword though. Knowing that I am going in 5 weeks makes every day a little harder, because I am so lost in my misery that I can’t wait to leave. Christmas seems so close, yet so far. In some ways it is sort of impeding me from actually settling here. The only upside is knowing that there is an end in sight. But again – knowing that there is an end, only makes each day longer. As I have said before, if I were in a city I loved, in a profession I disliked then it might be doable. If I had a profession I loved, in a city I hated, then it would be doable. Right now, I am so uncertain about teaching, and miserable in London…

In the New Year, it is highly unlikely that I will return to London. I need to find a place that works for me. This is not it. Banbury definitely wasn’t it. So far I have been impressed with the north – is it doable? Maybe after I find a secure agency. Maybe after I spend some more time in the communities up there. Maybe…maybe…maybe. Between the I-don’t-knows and the “maybes” it just never ends. What I would like, is to get through a day where I don’t feel as though I am being suffocated, and where my heart doesn’t thump with anxiety…just one day where I don’t have tears in my eyes or spend part of the day with a stress-related headache, worrying about money, or fearful over the future. Just one day.

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