Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where's that feeling?

I'm waiting for that feeling of pure and unfettered joy. I've been done with my papers for at least 20 minutes now; the last papers of the quarter/term are finished and I'm ready to look back fondly at the few months that have just passed with a sense of relief. But I'm not relieved. I don't know why quite yet. Maybe it's the fact that I'm leaving the country in less than two days. Maybe it's that I still haven't packed up any of my room. Maybe it's the fact that I'm feeling slightly depressed that the end is nearing so quickly.

I guess with papers in the way, marking a different deadline entirely, you start to forget that there's any true end to an experience like studying abroad. Even if you despise the writing process and lose all faith in humanity while putting together your final essays, it's some solace to know that since they still haven't been done, you're still in England. You'll still be in England for a while yet. Until you turn them in at the very least.

Tomorrow I turn them in. That's when it will really hit me, I think.

Right now I'm sort of in the netherworld between reality and make-believe-happy-dream-land. I haven't had dinner yet, so that part of my physical presence is very real to me. There's no mistaking the rumbly in my tumbly. But what is kind of being mistaken is the feeling of mixed relief and anxiety when ordinarily I should be feeling one or the other.

But the dichotomy makes sense, which I guess is some solace considering that under alternative circumstances this might be an indication of some emotional problem.

When I leave London, I'm taking so much back with me.

Aside from the many rinky dink trinkets that I've collected in my time here, I will arrive in the US with new stories, new experiences (good and bad), a new perspective on the good and bad in going to school overseas versus at home. I return without something too. Without someone who cares about me back in the UK. And I'm sad about that.

But in a few days I will also be back and surrounded by people who care about me at home. And then a few weeks later I'll be surrounded by more people who care about me in a suite with my friends in a new dorm in my old school.

I'm excited to re-embrace the familiar.

These past few months have been crazy. I blame the fact that my life in every other area - figuratively and geographically - is so comfortable. I know where I am going at any particular moment in time at my home institution. There's nothing strange about it, nothing that stumps me.

Back in September I was thrown into the fray and I honestly feared I would falter. In some ways I did (my GPA will certainly not be going up this quarter), but in other ways I didn't (I still managed to do well in all of my classes). There were positives and negatives throughout the experience. I'd be lying if I said it was all sunshine and daisies.

It's been tough. And not just because of the rain. I love the rain. And the freezing cold weather outside.

But I hope that even facing a departure from what has been an equally rewarding and trying experience, that I do end up feeling more of that heart-wrenching nostalgia than I'm feeling right now. Because at the moment it's being awkwardly counter-balanced by a feeling of anxiety about all that lies ahead.

There's so much to be happy about, though. And I'd be cheating myself if I'm not given the time to really ruminate on it. To appreciate it all.

I hope that the feeling I want (and need) comes when I go to turn in my papers tomorrow. And when the packing is all done and all that's left is an evening to relax before getting on my plane the next afternoon.

Because when I left school in June earlier this year, I never got that finality. I left with the beginning stages of strep throat and the worst body aches of my life. And even though I'm not as emotionally connected to this school or this dorm or any of the inanimate but tangible aspects of my immediate vicinity, I still have an intangible love for London. And for what I'm leaving behind.

So that feeling will have to come some time. I'll be sure of it. And I'll let you know when it does.

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