Monday, September 24, 2012

Getting used to this

There's something wrong with the shower. I don't know why it happens, how long it's been going on, or why no one else has mentioned it to the maintenance staff (knowing how lazy I am, I will probably refrain from doing so as well). All I know is that it's not normal.

However, it is tolerable.

I'm lying in bed with my hair wrapped in a towel and the base of my laptop resting on my right leg. It's nice and cool in my room, but the washroom is still filled with steam I'd imagine. I didn't ask for this steam. I didn't instigate it. But it just happened. Because our shower is wacked out.

If you ever happen to use our shower (which you might, if you happen to be a friend of mine who is visiting London), be forewarned: the temperature you set it to will not remain consistent. I learned this the hard way when I became frustrated with the lukewarm water coming out of the spigot. At full heat, it still would not satisfy my needs.

But just wait a few minutes and voila, you have the temperature you're waiting for. And then it goes away a second later. For no apparent reason, our shower likes to have momentary outbursts of scorching hot water during what is otherwise only a warm cascade.

If you've gotten this far in tonight's blog post, then I'm assuming you're waiting for the explanation. Why is this relevant? Why do I care? Are you just prolonging an explanation of a shower to fill up space?

Well I have an answer to two of those questions.

Many of my experiences over the past week have been filled with little bits of frustration and feelings of dissatisfaction. Like arriving at the hotel with all my study abroad companions and learning that everyone I was interacting with and becoming close to was going to the other university just outside of London. Or like finally having free days without the imposition of orientation sessions, and then being saddled with massive wind and rain storms all through the city.

But even so, I vow not to complain. At least, not with any level of true anger or prissiness. Because when I look at where I am, where I've come after years of wishing, things are on the whole pretty wonderful.

As of late, my greatest concern has been my inherent lacking ability to create any more cliques. In middle school, high school, even college I've always been able to find a niche group with whom to set up shop and trust in all capacities from practically day one. There was never a moment once I got to any of these new situations where I became incredibly worried that I wouldn't find at least one person to hang out with regularly.

But every day my mood fluctuates on this topic while I'm here. I constantly worry about not creating enough lasting friendships to make London feel worth it.

By focusing so much on that - the figurative "scorching hot water" of my UK university education - I'm ignoring the pleasantness that is the rest of the experience - the lukewarm water that is satisfactory in temperature.

Look outside my window and you'll see the beautiful lights of a city. I'm on the seventh floor of a building of student accommodation filled with flats upon flats, and sometimes the height of my living quarters can seem daunting. The lift ride may take a few more minutes than average, but when I look past my window sill and I can see over the apartment buildings nearby, I can understand why even the most obnoxious of situations can have their positive upshots.

When I came here I was looking for perfection. I wanted a room with a view, but I wanted it on the ground floor. I wanted a single, but I wanted it in a flat filled with English people who I could potentially become best friends with. I wanted to socialize, but I wanted the freedom to spend my nights in rather than out or to eat dinner in my room rather than out on the town or in my kitchen.

Always looking for these compromises has to translate to appreciating what I have even when I don't have it all. At the moment, I've met quite a few of my expectations. I've made good use of the city thus far, begun to call it home in many ways. I've experienced the quiet of my room and the bustle of its environs, but I haven't gone excessively outside of my comfort zone in the area of socialization.

If I'm ever going to look at this experience for what it is, then I'm going to have to accept that the beacon of a hypothetical I'd set for myself is never going to be met exactly. I will never quite hit the nail right on the head when I daydream. But striking something slightly different could actually be a good thing.

The shower isn't perfect. I haven't found exactly what I want quite yet. But I can't rule anything out, and if I'm smart I'll let that be enough.

With classes starting in a week and already a few plans made for before then, I'm sure things will be getting more interesting. If they don't, I promise to use hyperbole to hold your interest. Until then, get used to this, the notion of acceptance.

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