I’ve been meaning for a while now to write a post looking back at my time abroad, now that I’ve been home for a good bit. For the record, this is motivated purely by a desire for spiritual health and fulfillment, and is not in the least bit related to the fact that if I don’t do one last post, the official count will be left at 19, which is a horrifically uneven number. Just to set things straight.
Well, it’s been kind of gloomy today, so it seems like as appropriate a time as any for some retrospection, UK style. Also, fittingly, tonight is the season finale of 24, and Jack is leaving London behind. It seems right that I finally let it go as well. I mean, Agent Bauer and I are kindred spirits in a lot of ways. We both get very sentimental when things end. I often cry, as does he. We all remember how he wept in his car at the end of Season 3. Although that may have had something to do with the fact that he had just overcome a debilitating heroin addiction and then chopped his daughter’s boyfriend’s hand off with a fire axe.
But I digress. I shall put on my wellies and my jumper and my knickers, and I shall commence.
It’s crazy that it’s been over a month since I left the UK. On my last night, I stood on Waterloo Bridge at 3 in the morning, holding my shoes and contemplating my existence as I stared at the lit-up clock of Big Ben. The moment was somewhat broken by a passerby wearing a backpack, evidently on his way to the library or a late-night school field trip, demanding to know where my shoes were and if I was alright, perhaps concerned that I was about to be Taken or plunge to a watery death. But it was a nice sendoff nonetheless.
What has come to pass since that night on the bridge? And WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN???
I can’t say that, really. But what I can say is that during my first couple of weeks back in Southern California, my body experienced a sensation similar to what happens when a large mammal dies in the desert and then as a result of intense sunlight and dry heat rapidly deteriorates into a bleached pile of bones picked apart by buzzards and jackals, except much quicker and much more dramatic than that. I had not realized that the wet weather of the UK had affected my homeostasis so markedly, but let me just tell you: it did.
I can also say that I have finally gotten used to speaking loudly in public without fearing the burn of one million eyeballs glaring at me because of my unrefined and ex-colonized accent. It is mostly a good feeling, but also kind of sad. It was nice to be different.
I can lastly say, with great certainty, that I miss it. I’ve been reading Bridget Jones and Nick Hornby, I’ve been listening to Lily Allen, I’ve been watching Misfits, and I’ve stubbornly not eaten sheep intestine unless there is additional sheep intestine wrapped around it. Sometimes at night, I’ll close my eyes and imagine my entire running route through the Heath. But all that can’t bring me back.
You know what, though? That’s ok. Because here, there’s no Regent’s Park, but there is the beach. And I’m not meeting any Morrissey fans, but my sister sure likes Lady Antebellum. (Jack, please don’t send me anthrax in the mail because I just compared Morrissey to country music). There’s beauty and kindness and hilarity everywhere you go in this silly spinning spherical body in space, and that’s a nice thing to realize.
No matter what, when you leave somewhere, you’re leaving people and places you love behind. But there are more waiting for you on the other end. That’s what I’ve learned in this post-abroad state. That’s what I want to tell Jack as he softly sobs into his shirt in the parking lot of the elementary school he just saved from the bioweapon. And that’s what I need to carry with me as I embark into the terrifying piranha-infested swampland that is Real Life.
Don’t think I have any idea what I’m talking about? I probably don’t. But maybe I should say it with a British accent.
Then I’d sound well clever.