Separate Ways…

I arrived in Paris exactly three weeks ago today. I’m still existing in a very liminal state but, honestly, but I’m actually doing a lot better than I was at this point in my relocation to Dublin.

In my last post, I was filled with such anxiety for no real good reason. I think my psyche was just messed up because the anxiety and panic that gripped me when I moved to Dublin really blind-sided me. For this Paris move, I wanted to be prepared so as not to be caught off-guard again and I let my “anxiety about possible anxiety” wreck my head.

Not that my transition has been a picnic. Not at all. There has been crippling loneliness and doubt, there have been anxiety attacks, there has been the taking of xanax. But I got through it.

What basically set me off was a weekend in London. I arrived in Paris, was there for four days, then I was up in Manchester for work for two days, and then to London for three days to meet up with two friends to see “Hamilton”. (Side note – it was amazing, life-changing, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Just go see it.) We’d gotten these theatre tickets more than a year ago and I thought the timing of it was going to be good – I’d have a couple days in Paris to get situated but not really have time to dwell on things because I had this long-awaited Hamilton weekend to get to.

And the weekend was awesome. I had a great time – until it was time for me to leave on Sunday. I was the first one to depart, as my friends were getting separate flights to Dublin later in the afternoon. I got into the taxi, the door closed behind me and as I watched the two of them walk away I was overcome by this immense feeling of sadness because my friends were going back to Dublin and I wasn’t. And then the dam burst and I had an anxiety attack in the back of a London cab.

I was able to keep it under control during my Eurostar ride back to Paris but I could feel something bubbling under my surface and knew it was just a matter of time. I got to my apartment in Paris and let it all out – crying, pacing, panicking. I was full on until I pretty much exhausted myself and fell asleep.

The thing is, I didn’t really understand why the end of a fantastic weekend set me off. Sure, I’m going to miss my friends but it’s not like I’ll never see them again, and hell, it’s not like I saw them all that much while I was still living in Dublin. But I was talking to another Dublin friend on Friday afternoon and I told her this story and she got a bit teary-eyed. And she explained that it made perfect sense and it was kind of beautiful.

Getting into that taxi and driving away from my friends was me literally me going my own separate way. After so many months of build-up, and being able to avoid it earlier because of this planned weekend in London, this was it. The point of separation, at least for now, from the life I spent the past five years building in Dublin. It was a huge moment and no wonder I cried. That cry, and the subsequent one in my apartment later than night, were necessary.

Have I mentioned that my friend is not only awesome but very, very wise?

She was right. I’ve had fleeting moments of anxiety since that Sunday but no “attacks”. Certainly nothing like what I dealt with when I first moved to Dublin. I’ve actually been doing pretty okay. Each day I fall a little more in love with my cute apartment, I have amazing friends here who made me part of their circle instantly, my Dublin friends are still very much in my life, and I’m doing something that most people only dream of doing. I’m living in Paris.

Maybe I’m doing more than okay.

 

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The World Turned Upside Down…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard that the UK has voted to leave the EU. To say I am gutted is an understatement. I am also so angry that I can barely form coherent thoughts.  I therefore want to apologize ahead of time for what will most likely be an inarticulate, curse-laden post. You have been warned.

So, the Brexit. Let me try to summarize how I am feeling:

  • First of all, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. I’m mean seriously – fuck.
  • A majority of people over the age of 65 voted to leave. To which I say, fuck you old people. You’ve just royally screwed the younger generations because you want to return to the good old days. Today’s youth are the ones who are going to have to actually live with the decision you made. The prospects for those grandkids you dote over just got decidedly more dismal. Well done.
  • However, turn-out in areas with a higher percentage of young people was lower than in other areas. So, to those 18-24 year olds who didn’t feel the need to vote – this is what you get. If you didn’t vote, you have no one to blame but yourself.
  • We are now seeing all over the TV and internet news people with “bregret” (can we seriously stop with the cutesy names?) – those who didn’t actually realize what a leave vote would mean for them and their country but voted to leave anyway. For fuck’s sake, do your homework people.
  • And then there are the protest voters. Those who voted to leave as a protest because they didn’t think that enough people would vote leave for it to actually win. Seriously?! YOUR VOTE COUNTS! To all those “Bernie or Bust” people out there, please learn from this. A protest vote from you could very well be the reason President Trump gets sworn in next January.
  • The British Pound, not surprisingly, has tanked. I am currently paid in sterling and in the past two days have suffered a €10,000 cut in my salary. Same job, same responsibilities, same hours, A LOT less money. Fuck you very much.
  • The amount of racism and bigotry that I have seen displayed since Thursday is truly astonishing, and scary. This vote was about xenophobia more than anything and that makes me want to weep.
  • I am an immigrant. And to those who say to me “Well, we don’t mean you when we say we want to keep the foreigners out”, I say “Fuck you.”  I am an immigrant. I am a foreigner. If you don’t want “them”, you don’t want me.
  • I once thought I would like to give living in the UK a try. Not anymore. Why would I want to live in a place that is going backwards? Sorry, London – we could have had a beautiful thing, but it’s not going to happen now. I’m holding out hope for Edinburgh though, as the one good thing to come of this debacle could be Scottish independence.
  • Donald Trump and Sarah Palin both rejoiced that the leave vote won. Need I say more?
  • We are now living in a post-factual world. The actual truth doesn’t appear to matter to many people any more. They hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe. Seriously, when did FACT become a four letter word.
  • If this can happen in the UK, then Trump can win in the US. Come on, America – now is your chance to show the UK that, despite their fancy accents, you really are the smarter of the two. Don’t blow it.
  • Fuck.

If you leave…

I am writing this post in the lounge at the Manchester airport as I wait for a flight to bring me back to Dublin after being in the UK for business this week. And just last week, I was in London for business as well. As a result I am more aware than usual of the goings-on in the UK.

Something that has been in the British news of late is David Cameron’s fresh-off-his-win promise to hold a referendum by 2017 to let the people vote as to whether they want to stay in the European Union or not. I do not claim to know why the UK would not want to be in the EU anymore. I have no idea about the intricacies of British politics. But since it is something David Cameron supports I suspect the reasons to be rather douche-y.

Even though I do not live in the UK, I am rather worried about this referendum, precisely because someday I may want to live there. Perhaps even someday soon. There is a lot going on in my industry in London and beyond and to have that door closed to me would be rather devastating.

I have mentioned my worries to some UK friends and they seem to think there is no way it will ever happen. I’m not so sure. After all, this was a major point on Cameron’s reelection platform and he won. So, doesn’t that mean, by deduction, that the referendum will have a majority of support as well?

Again, I don’t really understand British politics and, even if I did, it’s not like I have a vote in the referendum. But if it does pass, the Golden Ticket that is my EU passport will indeed lose some of its luster.

The world is a book…

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

– St. Augustine

The daughter of one of my best friends is about to embark on the biggest adventure of her young life – studying theatre in London for the summer. The son of that same friend may well be my flatmate for a few weeks this summer, as he is pursuing an internship with Parliament here in Dublin. I cannot begin to express how impressed I am by both of these “kids” – by their passion, their drive, their willingness to step outside their comfort zone. And of course, kudos to their parents for being brave enough to let them go.

I don’t live a life focused on regrets but, let’s admit it, we all have them. And one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t study abroad when I was in college. Heck, I didn’t even get my first passport until I was thirty. I wonder what doors might have opened for me earlier if I had spent a summer or a semester studying in some foreign land.

Studying abroad wasn’t something that my college focused on when I was a student. When I got out into the real world and met friends who had studied in places like Rome, Venice, London, Paris and Australia, I became aware that I had really missed out on something. Thankfully, my undergraduate institution has changed for the better since my days there – my friend’s daughter is going to London with the same program I studied in when I was there. I like to think that had the summer in London been offered to me my junior year, I would have jumped at the chance – and who knows, maybe I would not have returned and my expat journey would have begun decades earlier. Or maybe not. Silly to think in “what ifs”, I know.

What I do hope is that my nieces and nephews and the kids of my friends and cousins will take the leap and study abroad. (And yes, they are all welcome to stay with me if they happen to study in whatever city I happen to be living in at the time.)

It would make me so happy if some of them might then get the travel bug the way I have. And maybe some of them will even decide to live an expat life in some amazing foreign place. I highly recommend it.

Tally-ho!

I’m writing this post on my third day in London.  I had to be here for work today, so I figured why not make a weekend out of it?  It takes about as long to fly from Dublin to London as it does from Buffalo to Cleveland.  Now, nothing against Cleveland, but which destination would you prefer?

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to move to Europe was because once you are there, the rest of Europe is just a short jaunt away.  I love that I can fly to Paris for the weekend.  I have a friend who went to Bratislava for 36 hours.  That’s right, Bratislava.  Why not, right?!  When you actually live in Europe, all corners of the continent become accessible.

But we expats need to remember to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.  It’s very easy to become “settled”.  We may be expats, but we still have work and responsibilities – and that can still be exhausting.  Even in the short time I’ve been in Ireland, I find myself sticking close to my neighborhood on the weekends rather than venturing out and exploring Dublin, which has so many amazing things to see.  When you’re a tourist, you have a list of what you want to see and do, of what you must get done in the limited amount of time you have.  When you live someplace, those things are always a possibility, so somehow one becomes less likely to do them.

But I’m going to do my best not to fall into that trap.  As an expat, I’m constantly reminded that I am in a place that isn’t my own, that isn’t familiar.  But I need to remember that that can be a good thing as well.

Again, no disrespect, but I’ve got London, not Cleveland, less than an hour away.  And that, my friends, kind of rocks.