Monday, January 21, 2013

When and where

I've been thinking today about how much time has passed since I was last in London. It feels, all at once, like a distant memory and the recent past. Like I just left, but somehow managed to hop between England and California, then California and Illinois within an instant.

I don't know how it happened so fast. It's even hard for me to fathom how 2012 has already ended. That seemed to just begin as well.

My concern isn't the passage of time however. That's an eternal question, the kind of problem that strikes us relatively often. We worry about deadlines, commitments, hopes, dreams, our fate. These are all things that revolve around time. I could talk about time under the umbrella of literally any subject.

But what struck me today wasn't time per se. It was that I happen to be residing near Chicago once again, when I can barely believe that I've even left London. And yet, London seems like a fictional character in my life story. As if I didn't actually live there for three months.

I think at the heart of this issue is that I really miss my city.

Not for every aspect, of course. While there I grew tired of my lack of friends and acquaintances. I walked away with a lovely and wonderful boyfriend, but no lifelong friendships. It surprised me. I thought, if anything, that the opposite situation would have occurred.

I don't miss shopping at Sainsbury's. While my previous ventures out to London had me eating Walker's potato crisps and Cadbury chocolate galore, living in the city means eating more sensibly... or at least buying food that is used to make real meals. Not just junk food meals. And I was stifled by the lack of options in my small local grocer.

My school wasn't anything to miss, really. The classes consisted of dry lectures, long reading assignments, extensive midterm and final paper writings that threw me into the deep end multiple times in the space of a few months.

And my dorm. Oh, what is there to say about the dorm? It was loud with the sounds of students partying. They would listen to the same soundtrack each night. Always The Kinks. Always London-thematic tunes. It was engaging the first night. I was glad not to be hearing loud rumblings of Usher or B.O.B. emanating from their flat. But seriously. Switch up the iTunes playlist once in a while. You must have gotten bored with it. I know I was

The shower I used each day was terrible. The stove top took 20 minutes to boil water in a pot. I was limited by the technology. The lack of Wi-Fi kept me from using my phone in my room until the latter half of the term (when I realized I could produce a Wi-Fi signal from my laptop).

There are any number of reasons that I shouldn't feel nostalgic. That I should look back at my time in London and say "good riddance." There are more of those reasons than their are reasons to be excited. But the fondness far outweighs the petty annoyances.

Because I had an unbelievable time there.

This isn't meant to be a point of complaining about where I am now. At the moment, despite the cold weather, the early mornings, the long days and the never-ending reading assignments, I'm happy to be "home." Chicago is comforting, friendly, familiar. I like being here.

Yet I miss being there.

And, to be honest, I miss being in California. In the same way that I missed Chicago when I was in London and when I was in Orange County.

I doubt I will ever be satisfied with where I am.

One thing that I am, however, is happy that I have lived in all of these places. And glad to know that none of them alienated me to the point that I never could think fond thoughts of them. At one point or another, each of the regions got on my nerves. But as it turns out, their effect was more profoundly positive.

So time has passed. Not much, I suppose - only about a month since I left London, and less than that since I left California. But I feel it: the sadness building up at not being able to magically live in three places at once. Or maybe four, if you include my long-lived desire to experience part of my life in New York City.

It's weird to think how some people can live all their lives without traveling out of their home state. My first adventure out was before I had left my infancy. And I've been a traveler ever since.

Not just a traveler, but a nomad. The kind of person who wants to experience different places, to live all across the globe. In some ways, I've accomplished this. In others, I hinder myself by not being open to a lot of locales that probably offer fascinating cultural experiences.

All I know is, my life has taken me to some beautiful places. I know it will continue to do so. But in the meantime, I have to embrace the place where I'm at while I'm there. I'm in Chicago now and I know it's objectively wonderful.

So I'm going to think about that now. Instead of London, instead of California. That isn't to say I'm forgetting those other places. But it's time to live in the moment. When and where I am.

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