on Dec 10, 2008

Hard. Fun. Freeing. Shocking. Stunning. Brilliant. Sad. Cold. Unfamiliar. Revealing. Blissful.

I have sat down to write this post millions of times, going through all that’s happened and I can never get past a few lines. The truth is I don’t know how to describe what it is like, and when I talk to Husband, and Sister, and Cousin, I suspect it’s very different for everybody.

First of all, imagine you have to pack your whole life in two 25 kg bags. TWO BAGS. What would you take? Pack knowing it will be about a year until you can afford to buy the stuff you left behind. It’s hard. We left everything behind. Everything. We sold all our books, cd’s, dvd’s, furniture, frivolous shoes, clothes, kitchenware, comforts.

Second of all, being here has been hard. Sometimes I think London doesn’t want us here, as if it had a magic spell against immigrants -albeit legal ones, but immigrants nonetheless- because I just can’t believe that after two and a half years we are still nowhere near where we would like to be. We have struggled to find jobs, and I don’t know if I have ever shared this on this blog, but, for reasons I won’t get into right now, Husband just doesn’t have one. I was lucky enough to find a job I loved but just as we were starting to feel confident that things would be all right after all, I was made redundant. In November. In the middle of the worst economic crisis there has been in this country for the past 70 years. We have also had quite bad luck finding a decent place to live in. Either we have had landlords from hell, or our rent goes up by 30%, or we find ourselves living in a damp flat with no heating (the current one). All of the flats we have lived in have had nightmare plumbing problems and we can’t seem to get out of the area we currently live in. Our money has disappeared from our bank account (don’t worry we got it back), and to top it all off, we have had several family emergencies that have forced us to give money we don’t have.

Now think of everything you didn’t pack and think it has been almost 3 years and you have not been able to get any of it back. Lots of the things that we had and did in Mexico that we took for granted have suddenly become luxuries. Like any kind of grooming, haircuts, highlights, manicures, waxing, makeup, frilly shoes, whims, movies, entertaining, dining out, traveling, books, games, everything.

Add Culture Shock to that, and it just sometimes seems like it’s just too much, like we shouldn’t stand it anymore and go back. And believe me, sometimes we’re tempted.

Except it’s also been great. It has been so much fun to live this, we have learned so much, and grown so much and also become much closer as a couple. For me personally, London has been an amazing self-discovery experience. When I lived in Mexico I felt vulnerable, sad, desolate and lost. I didn’t know what I wanted, or who I was. I didn’t enjoy life at all. I was just sitting there, passing time. I had very few friends, had been betrayed too many times, and cried many, many nights. I hated the City, hated the traffic, the pollution, the driving, and I couldn’t get a job.

I don’t know exactly what happened here, except that everything got better. I think realizing I had no control over life made me give it up, surrender it somehow. I woke up one day knowing I’d found myself. I saw myself everywhere, in the enjoying of nature, in the warmth of my husband, in the cold of winter, in the challenges of my job. I found friends that I didn’t know I could have, and being the sole breadwinner of a household made my confidence thrive. I am a joyful person here. I feel free, light, in love with life, and I would not change any of the material comforts we had in Mexico for that.

I shop on Oxford street, eat a cupcake from Selfridges, jog along the Thames River, walk along the South bank, and on a leisurely weekend I walk to Greenwich and put one foot on each side of the world. I can jump on a train and be in Paris in 2 and a half hours, or take a short plane ride to see my sister in Barcelona. I have been to a live concert of my favourite band, attended a conference with Michelle Gondry, seen a real London musical, and dined in the same restaurant as Mackenzie Crook (from the UK ‘The Office’)

Living here is amazing, trendy, chic, cosmopolitan and just plain brilliant. So maybe my house is not ideal, and we don’t have steady jobs, but we are young, we don't have any kids yet and I just know I will remember this adventure for the rest of my life. So, even if moving to London has been quite rough, I would not change it for anything.


Bethtastic said...

What an amazing adventure. I admire you had the courage to even try.

Thanks for the glimpse into your world! :)

Anonymous said...

That does sound like a wonderful adventure, with it's ups and downs. I know things will get better for you.