And so, I’m back. Well, I was back a month ago, but I refrained from writing anything, knowing I needed to put some distance between “here” and “there”.
My experience in the UK… how can I describe it. It was awesome and yet disappointing, exciting and yet it felt “normal”.
I don’t think I need to go into details of what I did there, because after all it was a two weeks holiday. I walked around, explored Derby, went to the museum… but that’s not really important.
The feelings while being there, those are just unforgettable.
Wherever I went, whatever I did, I couldn’t stop looking around, absorbing everything, closing it in my heart to be cherished. This will be a stream of consciousness rather than a coherent account of my time there, but I’m finding it hard to put it into words.
When I landed in London, I felt like breathing, for the first time in ages. It had begun. I struggled to accomplish something, I didn’t give up, and there I was! I actually made it! I couldn’t believe it. But, truth to be told, London wasn’t what I was interested in. I couldn’t wait to catch the train to Derby.
Gian slept for a good part of the journey, but I didn’t close my eyes a single minute, I didn’t want to loose anything. It was like a journey in my personal Neverland. It was green, everywhere. Bushes, flowers, trees… herds! Lots of animals everywhere! I saw cows, horses, sheeps, even a couple of donkeys!
I remember I couldn’t stop smiling. Every mile, every house, every bush, I was just smiling. It was so beautiful, I just felt so… good. Wonderful.
It was cold for my standards, and it was raining as well, but I didn’t care. I was just feeling at peace with the world.
And then we arrived, and I felt like a child finally opening his Christmas gift and finding out it was everything he ever wanted.
Life there is so different from here.
Everything is orderly, methodical. The trains are on time. Buses are on time! When you get on the bus, everybody knows it’s going to take time before it departs: the driver has to check your ticket or give you one. Everybody stands in queue, waiting for their turn. And when you’re on the bus, you have to sit down and don’t move until it stops. Only then you’re allowed to stand up and get out. And everbody thanks the driver as they get out!
I tell you how it works in Italy: queues don’t exist. People just hop in, looking for a seat, regardless if there is an old person, a pregnant woman or whatever in the bus. Tickets? Don’t make me laugh. Yes, there is some checking every now and then, but they are not as frequent as they should be, so lots of people just don’t pay anything.
Going down, people just amass on the exit, often pushing others aside. And yelling at each other if they aren’t fast enough to get out (or to hop in at the start).
You never want to be on a bus in school time. A nightmare!!!
So, I was amazed at the amount of courtesy I found there, everywhere. People were apologizing to me when they accidentally crossed my path! Or even for looking at me O_O
It was… reassuring in a way. I felt like some very old person was calmly telling me “take your time. Breathe. There is no need to hurry, everything comes in time.”
And, for a person living in a very chaotic environment, those words are soothing.
Then there were the children. Children, everywhere. Of every age. Families, walking around. And damn, they were all so young! So many women between 20 and 30 with 1-2 kids. You know this is almost a sin here? If you have a kid before 30 here, people think you’ve gone crazy. Or that you got accidentally pregnant. Same for getting married. Waste of life, they think, waste of youth. And, most of all, waste of money.
So many people still living with their parents because they can’t afford to get their own place. So how can they afford to get married or start a family? It’s just crazy.
So, when I saw that many young families around, that many kids, it felt warm. It felt like I didn’t need to be afraid here, that creating something was actually possible.
Of course, there is a reason I’m home since a month instead of staying there, and that was my major disappointment.
I’m not a tidy person at home, I like chaos. But there is a limit, even for me. And that limit was definitely reached when I went to see the room I booked, the room I was supposed to spend my UK month in. In a word, it was horrible.
It was dirty, it was chaotic, the neighbourhood was scary, the window was on ground level and just a curtain was separating the room from the street. Anybody could look inside. Hell, anybody could break inside! At least we have shutters for our windows. They don’t! I was scared. Very, very scared.
And needless to say Gian was all “come back home with me, I’m not leaving you here”. Truth to be told, he was right. I couldn’t stay there. And I didn’t.
Of course, that was the end of my dream of staying there for a month or more.
Gian already had doubts then other things came in the way and he started to say he wasn’t so sure about moving there, seeing how much we have at home (parents, family, ties, work, home…). But he told me to stay some more while he was going back, he told me to try and find another room. In a suitable place and of suitable standards.
I couldn’t find anything. Either it was only males renting the rooms, or it was too expensive, or it was, well, dirty.
So, I resigned and just stayed at the hotel for a week more.
Again, I had mixed feelings. When you live so long with a person, he becomes a part of you, slipping into your daily routine. So, of course, I missed my husband, and I couldn’t wait to see him again.
And yet, being alone for the first time in years, it felt wonderful. As lonely as it was, it was freedom as well. I never realised how much I missed being alone until that time.
It’s funny: when you first move in together, you have to adjust in mixing two life styles and actually not jump at each other throat, because you’re used to be alone. And when you are alone for the first time after being so long with someone, adjustments need to be made as well. I missed him dearly, I longed to be home. But I found out I could be alone as well. Knowing he was home waiting for me probably helped, since I knew I wasn’t really leaving anything behind. It felt safe. And I think I’ll never thank him enough for the time he gifted me. He understood I needed some time alone, away from him, away from home, from duties, from family, from everything. I needed time with myself.
I was waking up relaxed, and I was going to bed relaxed as well. Just what I needed.
And of course, there was the big plus called Allan. I can’t say how much I wanted to finally meet him, to glue together his image, his voice and his character. He was the big highlight of my holiday.
The first time I saw him, when he parked his bike and took the helmet off, my first thought was “damn, he’s so young!”. I always knew he was, but seeing it in first person was almost a shock.
And then there was talk, lot of talk. Well, I could not understand everything he said, but I usually got the general idea, and I loved every minute of it. When you talk to someone for over a year, it’s amazing to be physically in the same place and look at each other for a change.
I wished he could came and visit me more, but the odds were against us. First the weather. It kept raining, almost every day. Gian had like 35°C at home and I was sleeping with a duvet! I wished it was the other way round.
Then Allan was sick for a day.
Of course it wouldn’t have mattered if I actually stayed a month as planned, but knowing I just had a few days and then I would probably never see him again, I definitely cursed everything that kept him away.
And then… it was time to go home. Holiday over.
I cried on the plane when it took off, because I knew my big life change was never going to happen. In a sense, I failed there. If I couldn’t even find a place to sleep, how was I supposed to find a job?
So I silently cried, looking at England fading beneath me, thinking about what I was leaving behind, thinking about everything that would have never happened. I cried and cried.
Sad as I was, I still renewed the promise I made myself when I left: if I had to come back, then I would change everything that made me flee in the first place.
And I did. Not at first maybe, but I’m slowly working to it.
Simple things like moving the furniture around at home, to make it looking more “our home” and not “your parents home which we are living in, with their stuff”.
And looking for another home as well, somewhere that can be truly ours.
Being a better housewife, both for my sake and for Gian’s. Somehow, looking at those UK houses made me want to make mine better. To improve myself. God forbid I ever allow my home to become like them. Never, ever, ever.
And, magic, since I’m trying to be better, I stopped arguing with Gian. He feels better when he comes home and finds it tidy and clean, home is not somewhere to flee from anymore.
I still miss the UK. It showed me a way of living I really crave for. I know I’m never going back there, except maybe on holiday. I know I’m never going to live there. I know it will take a miracle to see Allan again.
But everything that happened, everything I felt and experienced, it’s all here, in my heart, safe and cherished. It’s something I can look at to improve or to just feel better. I know it’s not as perfect as I picture it, I know I didn’t stay long enough to spot the flaws, but I don’t care. Let me live in my fantasy ;)