Although readers probably don’t need a recount, I’ve lived in England and three corners of the US since November. I’ve walked through snow in a down jacket and had to take off my sweatshirt in the warm sun. I’ve shared space with my mom, brother, friends, boyfriend, boss, grandparents, cousins. Waking up in different beds, walking to different grocery stores, eating breakfast with different people.
I have moments when I vividly remember a coffee shop or a street of houses, but have no idea where they were. I now take for granted that when I wake up in the morning, I probably won’t know what state I’m in. But not knowing my physical location bothers me far less than wondering where the hell I went mentally.
The minute I learned I had to leave England, in early November, the Palmer I knew said “Sayonara,” and took a bus to Limbo. I haven’t been able to find her since. For more than two months, I have felt bereft of my independence, mojo, spirit, joie de vivre. My ability to not only generate dreams, but follow them.
I lost myself when the circumstances that made me leave England also made me doubt my instincts. I winced with small little fears, not just of immigration officials, but the IRS, banks, traffic cops, my gums, those old ladies at Walmart that check your receipt when you leave. I found myself wanting to open a savings account and actually put money into it. Granted, that’s not a bad idea and, granted, I could use a dose of mediating reality, but when you start questioning every urge, every desire, as potentially dangerous, you lose yourself.
You become a loser. Instead of feeling like a girl who impressed high-ranking clients, wrote stories, and made kids laugh, I felt like a girl stuck without a job or a home, in love with a man whose country had rejected me.
What a suck place to be.
Worse, it was a terrible time to be a loser. I needed to find solutions, and quickly, because in case we forgot, I’m still unemployed, homeless, and far from Marcus. I needed to encourage ideas instead of stifling them because they might be wrong.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when you feel that bad, you have two choices: you either continue feeling that bad so you can avoid what scares you, or you do what scares you so you no longer feel bad. It’s a simple equation but it’s funny how often we all forget it.
Finally last night Palmer walked in, threw her Limbo bus tickets on the table, and said, “Konnichiwa!” I have no idea why this part of me speaks Japanese but the point is we talked, had a drink, and have decided that feeling like a loser does not suit us. Fortunately, this also means I no longer have to refer to myself in the third person.
My ideas are good. My instincts are good. Meeting Marcus is the obvious, glowing, sweetly romantic and life-changing result of going to England the way I did, but it’s not the only benefit. If I hadn’t gone the way I did, three little children wouldn’t have taught me to be a human being. I wouldn’t have met Uke or seen castles or eaten crumpets in their native land. I wouldn’t have started the novel. I wouldn’t be able to talk to my mom the way we have the past month, because if I hadn’t learned to cope with change last year by intentionally initiating it myself, I would be a basket-case right now. And that too is worth much.
I accept the consequences of what I did, and my responsibility for my present circumstances. But I will not let the fear of them happening again prevent me from doing what I think is best.
And I might still open that savings account.