Anonymous asks: How are you going living in London? I remember you moved at a similar time as I have and I’m just having a day where I just want to go back home and have no idea what im doing here…
Until I flew to London four months ago, I didn’t have much sympathy for people who complained about the stresses of moving. This is possibly because the furthest I’d moved before that was about 5 kilometres, with less than one truck full of stuff.
A move on that scale - for me, at least - is easy. Pack your belongings in boxes the week before you move, unpack them the day you arrive, order in pizza with your new housemates - et voila. Done. Moving to another country - again, for me at least - was another thing entirely.
In the weeks before I left, I became hyper stressed and snappier than usual, prone to crying at the smallest of inconveniences. I cried on the flight over, particularly whenever the in-flight movies featured scenes showing parents interacting with their children (oh, the guilt). And the first few weeks after I arrived, I had intense nightmares, which resulted in me bursting out with such sleep talking gems as “I hate you” and “why don’t you just fuck off?”
It’s a good thing the boyfriend has such a thick skin. (NB: Said sleep talking was not actually directed at him, but at the people in my dreams.)
Despite all that - and despite my allegedly persistent whining in the first month I was here that I was going to run out of money, I was never going to get any work, and that my writing career was a total failure - I fell in love with London pretty much the moment I got here. The only moment I can say I probably did want to go home was immediately following this event, which left me seriously shaken. “I want to go back to Australia,” I remember saying that night when we got home. “Where people like me.”
I may have also had a little sob.
In any case, I can honestly say there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be right now. My love affair with New York City is on a temporary haitus as I soak up everything London has to offer: music, wacky theatre, art galleries, literary nights, shitloads of people who dress like me, which makes me feel oddly at home. I even quite like the weather, although we’ll see how I feel about that one come February. (It’s amazing how quickly 12 degrees celcius can go from being “fucking freezing!” to “pleasantly crisp” - and coat-free to boot.)
That said, I would be lying if I said it was easy. As I intimated in my last post, being here means constantly pushing myself outside my comfort zone - which I know sounds pathetic given that I’m living in a country with the same language, parliamentary system and a very similar culture (if a country that overdoes the Friends re-runs).
In the first month I was here, I didn’t sell a single freelance story - although things picked up fairly quickly after that. It took me a month to find a supermarket to shop at which sold fresh fruit, vegetables and meat that wasn’t pre-prepared. It just took me two and a half weeks to buy a new bunch of contact lenses. I’ve come to appreciate exactly how much professional knowledge I’d accumulated in Australia - I may have a vague sense of the publications here, but when it comes to newspapers especially, I have very little idea of who to pitch or how to tailor my stories to them.
And most importantly, while I’ve met some really great people while I’ve been here, I don’t have the same kinds of friendships or community that I had in Sydney. I know awesome individuals, but I don’t really have a network - and if I wasn’t living with the boyfriend, chances are I wouldn’t have anyone to hang out with some weekends. Meeting people isn’t something serendipitous that happens naturally when I’m out with my established group of friends, it’s something I have to do if I ever want to have a group of friends.
So I guess you could describe as ambivalent, but mostly positive. I love London, but there’s definitely a settling in process happening here.