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Ys

Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

(You are very much not forgotten)

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As of today, I've been living in England for exactly three years.
Ys
ajodasso
What's Changed

At the time I moved over here on 1 October 2005, I was (at a conservative estimate) pretty troubled. I was only just beginning to emerge from about two years of intense, unmedicated depression (which I was, to my credit, mostly good at covering up and not letting it interfere with important things like earning my BA in English from Wellesley). I'd just finished working for Starbucks (good riddance) and as a student research assistant on Kathryn Lynch's edition of Chaucer's Dream Visions (it was a fabulous gig). I'd never been to York before, although I was confident that all the investigation that I'd done independently on the MA program that I was about to begin would be a worthwhile venture and would help me to determine whether or not I wanted to do a PhD. Quite thankfully, it turned out to be the second-best risk I'd ever take. The best risk I'd ever take came about five months later when I became romantically involved with lifegivingsword. Given that I'd had two wonderful long-term relationships before that, neither of which turned out in the long run to be viable for lifelong partnership, I wouldn't have predicted I'd end up married to him in December of 2006. Part of me was always afraid of the implications of such a venture, however readily I might've entertained the notion early on in my previous two serious relationships. What I learned was that I'd always committed to the idealized version of the notion too early on. As afraid as I might've been, I think it's a testament to how extraordinary the situation with James really was (and still is). This is one instance in my life where I'll say third time was, indeed, a charm.

Psychologically speaking, I'm a lot better off. I'm not given to crashes of the same despairing intensity as I suffered in 2004 and 2005, although I've had brief spells of scaring my friends and loved ones here in York far more than they deserve. While I'm still not medicated, I do have a better idea of what my problem is and how to manage it through other means. As long as my work and long-term goals don't suffer, I'll consider the struggle a series of winning battles.

Publishing: I have something resembling a fledgling career, and this is, in spite of having earned an MA and being 2/3 finished with my PhD, the thing of which I am most proud. It's more than I expected to have by this point, and once the PhD is finished and I've secured a position at a university (or, who knows, an academic press or major archive), I hope I'll be free to move on to bigger and better creative projects. In the meantime, my poetry's doing better than ever.

Missing Boston: hasn't exactly gotten easier, but hasn't gotten worse, either. I've left behind jennaria, azureflight, twilightgardens, and dozens of others. As spotty as communication gets, they're always in my thoughts. Only a few places on this earth have ever succeeded in taking very real chunks out of my heart and keeping them. I accept that I'll never get them back. Remaining so broken is a small price to pay, what when the reflective dividends are often so great.


What Hasn't

The truth is, I do nothing by halves. I take academic and artistic risks, I jump off emotional precipices without being able to see the bottom, and I dream bigger than I can actually afford to dream. I don't know how to live any other way.

I suspect I'd die trying, and that's a conservative estimate, too!

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I used to dream and commit that way. I wish I hadn't changed, and I wish I knew how to get back. Confidence is much easier to have before it's been taken away.

Don't get me wrong, though: there are still days when I wonder how much of this has been due to just plain luck or chance.

rhube Expand
ajodasso Expand
Thanks for posting this -- it was interesting to learn some of your background. I myself worked at Starbucks for a year. Although Starbucks is a decent employer, I found it REALLY frustrating to be working in a coffee shop making drinks for people who looked down on me, when I really wanted to be working on my thesis. I don't think academics do well in jobs like that :)

I found it REALLY frustrating to be working in a coffee shop making drinks for people who looked down on me

There's the rub, yes. While it's a decent company to work for, the clientele and the high levels of stress on the shop floor were just dreadful.

There is no better way to live, to be alive, bravo to you.

I left you behind, too. I miss everyone so much.

ajodasso Expand
Only a few places on this earth have ever succeeded in taking very real chunks out of my heart and keeping them. I accept that I'll never get them back. Remaining so broken is a small price to pay, what when the reflective dividends are often so great.

It's nice (in a bittersweet way)to know that there's someone else out there who understands these feelings. I'm Chicagoan by birth but a New Englander by choice. I consider the formative years I spent there to be my roots, and that will never change, despite the fact that I'm no longer there. I know I won't remain in Chicago for the long term (already got a plan to move in the works), but I doubt I'll go back East, either. My heart feels fractured because most of my closest friends are a plane trip away now, and this is something that I'm achingly reminded of every time I spend time with my SO's friends, most of whom are around here. It's so hard. My friendships are my life, and living day to day without their physical presence has left a permanent mark on my soul.

Chicago is a city I'd like to get to know better. I imagine there are some parts of it in which I'd enjoy living, if I ever had to. Lots of good universities...!

ida_pea Expand
ajodasso Expand
That last paragraph was really inspiring! It's nice to know that someone else out there leaps off emotional mountains without caring what's below. :)

And I totally understand what you mean about Starbucks. The day I quit was one of the best days of my life. I love not being yelled at all the time!

My track record is pretty impeccable on that score. It's not that I don't think before acting; it's more that the function of said thought is to assess all risks and be prepared for (or at least to acknowledge) all possibilities. But the fact that I'm going to jump is always a given from the start.

It's not that my manager was mean (she wasn't), but we had a series of duty managers who were very, very high-strung people. That coupled with the high-strung clientele (we were the second-busiest store in Boston)...

ajodasso Expand
Sometimes it's wonderful to look back and realise how much better life is compared to the past (in many respects), isn't it? ♥

I can really relate to the brokenness of having two countries close to your heart - I was born in England and spent my childhood there, but I've lived here in Helsinki for the past twelve years. There's a constant pull either way, and I know that whichever country I settle in (I really want to move back to England at some point, too), I'll miss the other. At the risk of sounding over-dramatic: it's a blessing and a curse all in one.

I do nothing by halves. That's the way life should be lived!

It's frustrating and scary to some of the people around me, though ;)

Such courageous decisions are still ahead of me but recently I've been thinking a lot about the changes I want to take and new possibilities - so thanks a lot for your post, in a way it comforts me a lot to think that there are people who took risks and succeeded. Who knows, maybe I'll be next? :)

And, by the way:
I dream bigger than I can actually afford to dream. I don't know how to live any other way.

I could have written this. I remember the phrase from the commercials - dream big - I have always wondered how many people actually do.

Best of wishes in your upcoming decisions, then! I've spent the better portion of my life giving my loved-ones various fascinating heart-attacks. What do you mean, you want to major in voice performance and not journalism? What do you mean, you're not happy after two years in music school, and you'd rather transfer to Wellesley and be an English major?! Wait wait wait, grad school in England, WHAT!

(Seriously, though, I'm glad it all worked out in the end, because from a financial standpoint? It hasn't been cheap, and a lot of strings had to be pulled on all sides to make it happen. In that respect, I dream huge. However, I did finally get the directional right - to get into a good grad program, a school like Wellesley was exactly what I needed as far as challenging enough academics and the right connections...)

<333333 And goodness, I've been around for every bit of this. Thanks for letting me into your life.

Thanks for wandering in! And not very many of you can say that, I think. Certainly only a third of you, maybe less!

I have to applaud you, because as exciting as it seems, I don't think I'd have the guts to move to a different country, especially if I didn't know anyone there.

That's really great that everything has worked out for you! Maybe some day I'll be able to take a risk like you did. Hopefully.

What made you want to move to England in the first place?

Moving to a different country that has a common linguistic background to the one that you've left is considerably easier ;) I might've been more intimidated if I'd been moving to, say, Poland. Even France would've been all right, as my French is quite proficient and could have done with brushing-up to full fluency. My biggest problem these days on that front is a lack of much verbal practice!

What made me want to move here? The school and the programs it offered. Also the fact that the academic I most wanted to work with was on faculty here ;) I got my wish(es) many times over. And I might not have been so fortunate, either. So many stars had to line up in the right arrangement, I feel, for all this to have happened (my mildly superstitious side coming out...)

The truth is, I do nothing by halves. I take academic and artistic risks, I jump off emotional precipices without being able to see the bottom, and I dream bigger than I can actually afford to dream. I don't know how to live any other way.

I suspect I'd die trying, and that's a conservative estimate, too!


And don't you EVER fucking change. The world needs more people with that kind of spirit. Maybe one day, there'll be enough of us to actually get a good thing going. ♥

I get endlessly frustrated with people who say, oh, yeah, wouldn't it be great if we did [insert X here]? and then fail to commit to it. Maybe I've gone past the point of no return one too many times; maybe that's why most risks these days seem like nothing to me.

*hugs*

ajodasso Expand
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...and there's the other thing: those of you I left behind in PA *sigh* I do wish we lived closer, too; I'm still amazed I get to see you even as rarely as I do, though *hugs* I had thought that my trips Stateside would be a lot more limited than they actually have been. And that goes to show you that I really have learned to appreciate small mercies!

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