Kay Ryan earned a forever-spot in my heart on Friday when she said the following: "I would like to install among the great emotions of the world, relief. More reliable than, say, love or others perhaps because it comes at the end."
I am standing in deep relief (and also some sadness) at the end of one of the greatest, happiest, hardest chapters of my life. After two years and three cities, as of August 2, I'll no longer be calling the UK home.
There's no one reason for this decision. It's crept up in various ways and whispered in my ear since the beginning of 2012. The past six months have been really weird and hard. And because I was really calm through at least the first four months of that strangeness, I ended up in a kind of denial about how bored I was, how lonely I was, and what I really wanted. I did not feel like myself. And just like every other time in my life where I was struggling, I've had a hard time really convincing people that I needed more support than usual. I didn't know where to begin. I felt ungrateful. And I felt like a burden.
But my wonderful friend Haviland encouraged me to be honest right here about all the isolation and panic attacks that have chipped away at my desire to remain here. So I'm going to isolate some of the issues in future posts, but I want to start today by explaining my reasons for heading back to the US. And thanking everyone for the really nice notes you've been sending me.
1. I don't like to go on record to complain about anything, but I'm massively disappointed in St Andrews as far as this phd goes. My guidance has swung between overkill and non-existent, they withheld my loans and my ability to support myself for 5 months and showed very little urgency in addressing the matter, they keep raising my tuition, there's no opportunities to teach. They seem like they could take me or leave me. And that feeling is now mutual.
2. The UK job market/post graduation visa likelihood. I'm not sure I've ever questioned my actual ability to do any job I set my mind to before coming to the UK, where specialization and a weird kind of specificity snobbery seems to rule the day. I know the economy is bad, but skill sets are transferrable. I will never concede that nearly a decade of Broadway experience shouldn't earn one equivalent respect on the West End. Four months of being told I'm too American got pretty old, pretty quick.
3. Based on the choices I've already made in my life, it's not possible for me to have all the people I love around me at one time. But man, I miss so many people. The older I get, the harder it is to miss them that much.
4. I've probably never felt more isolated than I have living in London these past few months. The nature of my work is solitary, and I'm comfortable with and in fact require a certain amount of solitary time for my work. But I also need a balance of a really consistent community and work for a cause that is bigger than myself.
I finally just had to ask myself, why am I fighting so hard to stay here? At the end of the day, I am happy and excited to think of what might await me both in NYC and LA-- both stops I'm making before I make a decision on which one of those places I want to be. But there's also things I'm leaving still without having done, places not explored.
In truth (and I'm going to get more honest about this in a bit) I came here looking for something I fear we've scared or shamed or "cool"ed ourselves out of admitting that we want-- in fact, it seems we're not even allowed to want it anymore. I came around the world for love. To shake myself out of the rut I had worked myself into in New York. And the nagging, persistent ideas about myself that rooted themselves when I was a kid and a teenager. In a way, I did find some of that love, even though none of it went how I planned.
But the people I'm leaving behind are some of the most precious and loyal friends I've ever had. They, more than perhaps any other set of people, made me believe that I could be appreciated just for myself-- without having to sing for my supper, or tap dance, or always say the right thing, or what I could do for them. It is the most relieving thing, right there, to be loved for yourself.
I'm looking to install that in my life from now on.