There is something curious about living in a place that you didn’t grow up in. You have to learn the nuances of people’s behaviour, the political attitudes of this new place, what their version of fun is.
I’ve become more of a frequent drinker here than I was back in London. Socialising is a prerequisite to pretty much everything else. Questions about what you’ve got planned for the upcoming weekend cannot always be responded to with “just chilling” as people will soon start to think that you “don’t have a life”.
Expectations of enjoyment here are about travel plans (especially if you’re on a work and holiday visa like me), eating all the food and breakfast you can, and bar hopping if your wallet will allow it. The expectation to enjoy yourself is high but wholly warranted, because there is indeed, a lot here to enjoy.
But sometimes doing all the stuff and seeing all the things can get exhausting. Sometimes you just want to sit at home on your bed and ponder your life for a moment (I am using the word ‘want’ here very liberally), or you want to go to your local cafe, drink coffee and stare at a blank page for two hours, trying to decide what to write (I’m basically just describing two of my favourite pastimes).
The pressure to be happy-go-lucky all the time can weigh you down at home and abroad, as it turns out. I’ve started feeling like a bit of an outsider of late; I mean more than usual, beyond the general feeling of being a person of colour.
These past few weeks I have had the flu and experienced for the first time since moving here, the real downside of not having your ride-or-dies around. You know, the ones that know what kind of soup you like, who’ve already seen you in terrible shape, so you no longer care that they show up when you’re in dishevelled pyjamas, haven’t showered for two days and smell like Vicks Vaporub and lemons, with a blocked nose, making a slow, painful shuffle walk from one room to the other. They have seen you at your worst and your best, and they love you all the more for it. But it takes time to build those kinds of friendships, much longer than 6 months a lot of the time.
I’ve been given pause this month over these things, over friendships and how long it takes to build the deep ones, over feeling understood and supported by those who love you because of your flaws and not in spite of them, over enjoying your life whilst simultaneously missing parts of your old one. And within the downtime, discovering the nature of new interactions and seeing lines drawn between the relationships that have the potential to deepen, and the ones that don’t.
I suppose most things can be figured out when the chips are down; that seems like something I have heard said before.
So I am missing stuff, having finally been cursed with the feeling that probably strikes everyone living away from the place that they once considered to be home: a sick desire for somewhere that had its trials and tribulations, but equally made you exactly who you are today. And you miss the people back there, the ones that know exactly what to say when you feel at your wits end, and what not to say when all you need is a hug and not words.
It can be a hard thing to sit with when you’re surrounded by unfamiliar faces.
Image credit: people by DesignNex from the Noun Project