Thursday, 31 July 2008

What I miss the most...

OK, I will in no way try to pretend that I miss nothing about Britain. In no particular order, I miss the following:


  • The Guardian. This country has shit papers, and nobody cares.
  • The food on Edgware road. No more Shwarma kebabs from J on his way home from therapy.
  • Cultured people. Brits can't ski, OK, but at least the dreaded middle classes are good at intelligent dinner table conversation.
  • The Beeb. Especially Paxo. Though I can of course watch him on the iPlayer.
  • Corner stores. This country lacks enterprising immigrants.
  • The shopping... Kew, Fat Face and House of Fraser are my favourite shops. Sigh...

But at the moment, that really is about it. I do not miss the following...

  • The constant noise.
  • Way too many people on way too small an island.
  • The materialism, coupled with low wages, leading to ridiculous work hours.
  • The unemployed. I know I'm really snobby, but I quite like knowing that the state takes care of those people and that unemployment in this town I now live in is 1.5 per cent. Meaning that anyone with arms and legs and most people without are actually working.
  • The housing. Yay for space.
  • People being uptight. That is mostly a southern thing so apologies to the Scots, Welsh etc. etc.
  • The disparity in society. Which obviously is a bit gratuitous since I said the thing about the unemployed, but there you go. I like everyone to earn the same and have a good time. And I don't care if I pay 45 per cent tax.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Day swimming


underwater miyana
Originally uploaded by Technical Tina
So I've officially relocated.

It's weird. I think I'm still in denial. I landed here on Saturday and my time since has mostly been taken up with cooing over my brother's new daughter, seeing my friends and a translation job I stupidly took on as I'm now a student and should not turn my nose up at the chance of earning some money.

J is coming on Thursday. We've talked on the phone every day and chatted online when he's been at work (I have acquired our shared laptop for the time being), and I can't quite fathom that for the foreseable future I'll be missing him this much, all the time.

It is weird the way I miss him, it's nothing in particular, I just miss his company, his excited exclamations as he watches 24 whilst I work towards my first million neopoints.

And it's not that dreadful, heartburn-like kind of missing, I don't feel agitated, I just feel kind of lethargic. Like nothing's really that fun when he's not around.

But I know already that I have made the right decision. Even if it is years away, I can look forward to having an actual profession, where I can easily get an interesting job and possibly work from home in time.

And it is beautiful here. I am staying with my parents, and they are on holiday in Stockholm for the week with my youngest sister. The house is empty, except for me and the dog.

There were heat records all over the country this week. I wake up every morning in the sveltering heat, and on the large patio outside I have a view of the ocean, a ten minute walk and I am there, among screaming blonde children with impossibly golden tans, and teenagers who are slim and careless and do not, as a rule, carry knives.

Today, taking a break from the work, my friend dropped me off at the beach (I was too lazy and too hot to walk), and I spent over half an hour snorkelling and looking at the seaweed and tiny fish brought to life by the currents and the sunlight. It is almost as if the previous decade never happened, as if I have never been away. It is such a relief.

Then I walked back up the hill and spent some more time on the patio working, the temperature in the mid-twenties by then, completely perfect. I watched the sun go down across the rooftops just before midnight, and then migrated upstairs where I am now, the breeze reaching in through the skylight to dance with the strings hanging from the blinds in the bathroom across from me.

I cannot hear a single car. The air smells vaguely of barbecues and sea salt and pollen. It is where I belong. If J was with me, home would truly be where the heart is.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Aussie Tin Roof


Aussie Tin Roof
Originally uploaded by sinoperture
Now I was going to go for a jog this morning in line with my recent healthy eating and weight loss scheme, but honestly.

It is absolutely pissing it down outside. And I am quite enjoying sitting here, listening to the rain hittingthe corrugated plastic roof on the outhouse.

So I am number 2 on the wait list to get a space at the university I want to go to, to become an Actual Psychologist.

It is not in the UK.

If I get in, and I should know whether I do by next week, I am leaving the country.

I have spent my whole adult life in the UK, and for better or worse, I do quite like some things, like the Guardian, the BBC and BOGOF offers in supermarkets.

If I do go home, it won't be easy. You can't just return somewhere after a decade and expect it to be the same.

My friends back home are ridiculously excited that I might be moving home. And so am I. I have been miserable for so long, missing them and my family.

The foremost worry thought in my mind now is that I don't in fact miss them, and I am therefore miserable; I am just miserable because I am.

And, of course, if I go, I will miss J. All the time. I know this. Anything more than 48 hours apart is a bit of a struggle. He will not come with me. He isn't ready to go. Maybe I am not ready for him to come either, maybe I need to settle in by myself while hoping he will eventually follow.

I don't know what percentage likelyhood I give to me still being J's Girlfriend a year from now, but I am hoping. He is the best boyfriend I will ever have, and I really want to be with him, build a life, have children, grow old together, feed him ice cream in bed over the Saturday paper (which sadly is unlikely to be the Guardian, but maybe we can have someone post it?).

Maybe it will be good for him to be on his own for a while, to help him learn to fend for himself and listen to what he really wants, to learn to ignore the voice of his mother in his head, and of me too.

He says that although he does not wish for me to go, he would feel better about us knowing that I am working towards achieving what I want, that I am surrounded by people who love me, that he is not holding me back.

But I have taken ownership of my actions. He is not holding me back. I am, if anything, using him as an excuse not to go home, because I feel I have nothing to show for the last decade of my life. No qualifications, maybe not even a life partner.

However my homing instinct is becoming overwhelming. It is like Tinnitus, it cannot be ignored except for by drowning it out with something louder, a sharper pain, and even then I know that it is still there.

It is still raining outside, the droplets have gotten larger, the whisper on the roof has crescendoed into a roar. I will not go for a jog. I will upload photos of J with his friends and Godchild from last weekend and ask myself, honestly, if I can justify wanting to remove him from them.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Grown men crying

I don't mean Nadal himself, who is obviously not quite yet a man (he was crying like a baby, and combined with Federer looking noble but of course deeply tragic, the whole scene almost brought a tear to my eyes).

J, however, was really in tatters as Federer is is hero, and in the summer, the one man he "would sleep with if given the chance". In the winter this spot of honor is taken up by Mr S Gerrard, who is obviously not really available in the season of long, light evenings during which tennis thrillers hold the nation's attention to ransom.

Meanwhile, I've examined my life and decided I have to take ownership of my own situation. In other words, admit stuff to myself.

First and foremost, the reason I am not moving home to be closer to family and friends is that I really wanted to achieve something here in Britain. I don't feel I have done this, not really. I wanted to come home like the hero returning on a white horse in shining armor.. like Jeanne d'Arc, maybe. Not limping on a donkey (like JC, so come to think of it, riding in on a donkey might not be all bad). It has to do with status, I want to prove myself. It has nothing to do with J holding me here, it has to do with me feeling I am letting some unspecified entity (myself, mostly) down by coming home and not having "achieved".

Secondly, I choose to be with J, who does not want to get married, or have children, or buy a house (though in the current house market, neither do I). In other words, something deep inside me does not really want to do those things just yet either. If those were the most important things for me, I would leave him and find someone who can help me live up to those aspirations.

So, in short, I am living in the UK and being miserable because I am too proud to turn home without having anything to show for my ten years in the UK apart from a BA from a slightly dodgy ex-polytechnic, and I am unmarried and childless because I am too much of a coward to be attracted to someone who wants to change my status in these regards.

There you have it. I have some tough choices to make. Should I give up my extremely generous, Oxbridge-educated, crazily attractive though dysfunctional boyfriend and travel home with my head lifted, or should I grit my teeth and think of how much my life has changed over the last ten years, and how I still have time to achieve?

J is folding up his clothes and putting them away for the evening, and afterwards I know he will take out what he is wearing tomorrow from his overfilled chest of drawers, and put it on the dining table downstairs in order not to wake me as he gets up at 0720 to go to work. Then he will brush his teeth and crawl into bed and rub his recently-shaven cheek on my arm as I type and ask if I want a cuddle. And then, although Roger didn't get any, I might get some Rogering. Cheap joke, couldn't resist.

So maybe there is a third reason I am staying put. Maybe I really have something here which is too good to give up, prospective babies and engagements or none.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Happy

I was writing up the resume of one of our patients today. In between him complaining of staff treating him badly, nothing being good enough etc. etc., his therapist had challenged him and asked him what he wanted staff to do for him, and how he wanted to be treated. He couldn't answer it.


one with the sea
Originally uploaded by Luis Montemayor
Now completely apart from the fact that I actually feel sorry for this guy despite him having done some completely horrible (and I mean horrible) things in his past, this got me thinking.

Maybe the reason I so often feel down is that I haven't really figured out what it is that makes me happy in life. Last night, I had a lengthy (therapy style) conversation with J about his mother and how she has shaped two of his most important core beliefs: That he is inadequate in personal relationships and that he is a bad person if he does not love his mother. I could write a whole separate post about that conversation, but in essence I asked him whom he wants to decide how he feels about himself, his mother or, well, he himself.

And in the car home today, as I was driving Westwards into the beautiful sunset after the end of my shift, Celine Dion in my lungs (yay Magic) and a cool draft from the Micra's window on my right arm, I thought that maybe the same is true for me.

I went into journalism because I was told from an early age that this would be a good profession for me to go into, because I am extroverted, good with language and fairly creative. But it didn't fulfil me. Then I went into psychology, because I guess I am interested in people's stories. And I am. I was chatting to another patient for quite a period of time this evening, and his life story interests me (sadly, I have to say, more than his outcome in this particular case). But my job does not fulfil me, and sometimes I fear that even if I manage to qualify as a psychologist at some point in the distant future, I will still feel the familiar restlessness.

I have come to the conclusion that for all my left-winged, Guardian-reading, bleeding-hearted socialist leanings, I don't want to work for a large public organisation. Been there, done that, and it simply doesn't suit me.

Partly the attraction of becoming a psychologist is that at some point I will be able to run my own practise, out of my own home, where I get to choose my clients and my hours and how I spend my day. I can schedule time to do morning pages when I feel like it, and although of course I will have a duty of care towards the people I deliver therapy to, this will not involve carrying a ridiculously large bunch of keys, hauling belongings in and out of store, or watching cockroaches scurry across the kitchen floors of entirely inappropriate for their use Victorian buildings.

Maybe I wouldn't be happier, but this is I think the life I would choose for myself.

J is twitching slightly as he does. I have given him a cellular blanket to sleep under, he keeps waking at like 0530 in the morning, and I was thinking it might be because he is too hot. My best friend tells me this really affects her baby boy twins. In case the cellular blanket is slightly cold, I have covered it with a red polkadotted fleece blanket I got for my birthday from his now-former not-quite-sister-in-law. He is so cute it's not even funny, his ear plugs protruding slightly from his ears below the Boots in-flight eye mask he wears cause our landlady is too stingy to put up curtain rails.

He is a manager now, though only acting. If only his team could see him as I see him. But I wouldn't want them to. J when he's asleep is mine and mine alone, I guess it is a sign of our intimacy that he falls asleep every night looking completely ridiculous but not caring. And without fail, about five minutes after settling down, me still playing Neopet games, his hand fumbles across the duvet to find mine, to stroke it quietly goodnight one last time. And this, I am certain, is one thing that definitely does make me just a little happier.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Disappearing From View


Disappearing from View
Originally uploaded by Steve Stone
Because I have not been blogging for so long, I just had a look around and saw that most of the people whose blogs I used to read, with the notable exception of Daisy, have done a semi-disappearing act.

And maybe that's what's so attractive about blogging. You can bare your soul and then disappear, and it's as if everything you said disappears with you, as opposed to if you told your real-life friends, and they would still know.

Except of course, paradoxically, what you have said is all the more permanent because it is stored right there for you to see, online. People don't tend to delete their old blogs. I guess it would feel too much like burning a diary.

But even in real life, people don't just disappear. Last night I had a very weird dream about an ex-friend of mine (I am not sure why we are ex-friends, but he rejected me on Facebook so I guess we are), which involved a drowning car and his fiancee (very soon to be wife) wearing a hijab.

So I messaged him on Facebook this morning, and he replied almost instantly. We have not been in touch for about two years. And there he was, at my fingertips, almost close enough to touch. I guess things never really disappear. I find it strangely reassuring.

Last year, J and I went on holiday near where my gay ex lives, and I met up with him (again, arranged on Facebook, where we are friends). It was extremely reassuring. He used to be a nervous wreck, but he has really grown up, he has bought a flat and has a great job (much better than mine) and seemed so... happy. I think I don't ever want to see him again, just so I can hold that idea in my head that this is how he exists now.

Sometimes I think I have an unhealthy obsession with the past, that I should just let stuff go. But my brain has never been much for forgetting. Stuff sticks, from useless trivia to ridiculous relationships. And I kind of like it that way.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

May appear closer

I once had a teacher to whom I told the story of how I was madly in love with one of my friends, but didn't know if I should tell him.

He told me: "When you are young, you don't appreciate this kind of closeness. You think, this is nice, but it'll keep happening. But it doesn't."

Of course, I didn't tell my friend until it was too late, and we never ended up together.

And now I realise that my teacher was completely right. I have met three people in my life that I would count as soul mates. And I don't think that's cause I use the term flippantly, I think I have just been lucky. J is not one of them. But I know that he is close enough.

With J it is different. I don't love him because he reads my mind. I love him because he is his own person, he is not me, he is not inside my head. And I feel really strongly about him. Almost four years in, I still love his smell, love burying my head in his chest in the morning when we are still half asleep and my eye mask protects my soft skin from his stubbly chin. This is something that should be cared for.

I let those three people above go, quite flippantly in some cases. I don't regret it, it just wasn't meant to be with either of them. But I have learnt my lesson. You will never meet someone who is the same, who fills the gap, who makes you into the person you want to be, that you used to be when you were with that other person, who completed you.

Meeting your soulmate and losing them means you will always be a little less of yourself, that a part will be missing.

But of course, like a brain, you grow, you develop, you adapt, until that missing part is still missing, but no longer of any consequence to yourself. This hurts. I would not recommend it to anyone.

And I am tired of this adaptation, having to scramble around for ways to build a bridge across to bits of yourself that are suddenly isolated on some kind of island in your personality, having to start afresh, looking for an uninjured part of yourself to offer to the next person, because everyone deserves to meet the part of someone who has not yet been mauled by someone else.

J has not had this. Sometimes I feel sorry for him because he hasn't had this, because he hasn't ever had a soulmate, because he hasn't lost anyone this way. Because if you haven't, it's difficult to know the level of regret and loss that can be felt in retrospect, even if you know it was the right thing, the only thing, to do at the time.

He says he sometimes thinks we are soulmates. What he means, I think, is that sometimes we have real intimacy, that we laugh at the same things, or with each other, that there are moments when we don't have to speak and we just melt into each other.

These things are all true. But I don't think he's my soulmate. Nothing would make me happier than if I give him that experience that other people have given me before, of being completely understood, completely accepted.

But the first time around, it is difficult to appreciate this. You think, in my teacher's words, that it'll keep happening. But it doesn't. However, J doesn't know this. Which is why I fear for our relationship.

Peer Review Section