22 February, 2008

London Process Update

"This might be the beginning of a funny story," I told my mom on the phone the day I received my acceptance letter from London. "See, I got my letter today.... and they put me in the wrong school."
"The wrong school?!"
Turns out, it wasn't funny at all. Just a little messy. Hopefully it will all be sorted in a few days and I will be sent my new and improved letter of acceptance from CSM.

In the meantime, I am trying to pick out my hall of residence. I've narrowed it down to five possibilities, all of which are out of my price range, and three of which are kinda far away from my school. I think. I'm not sure which branch of CSM I'll be in. Getting information is hard, and I wish I had a contact at the school outside of my admissions advisor who I don't like to bother (she is very kind, but very busy).

Looking over these very basic descriptions of houses, I keep coming back to the scholarship I'm waiting on. I will not know if I got it until April, and I'm trying to not get my hopes up. But it would make this whole housing thing easier because it would pay for my entire tuition. But I need to make housing decisions before then, ideally. It's a little complicated.

And lately, I've been feeling a little sad about moving again. I keep remembering this one day I had in London. It was a little gray out, and I was wandering around picadilly circus area. I was lost (no one's discovered the miracle of clearly labeled street signs in London) and starved. I sat down in a little cafe and ordered a sandwich. I had on five layers and a heavy coat, but the cafe was hot and I was taking off layers as fast as I could when my tasteless sandwich arrived. I stared out of the muggy cafe onto a street full of people. The tables surrounding me were occupied by friends having coffee and an occasional couple. I was the only person there alone, hunched over my food, staring out the window. I became very aware just then of how lonely I felt, spending all my time alone. I was seeing amazing things and having a good time, but I had no one to talk to about it. Getting lost alone is kinda nerve-wracking, but getting lost with someone else is funny. Seeing beautiful things alone made my heart sink into my stomach. I am not as much of a loner as I think I am.

Granted, things would be different if I had a home base within the city. Having nowhere to go that I could just be happily alone made that moment in the cafe much sadder for me. But I worry that London will not feel like home for a while. My little dorm room will not be a home for a while either, in the way I mean. It took me a couple of years and three different apartments before I felt like San Francisco was my home, even though I'd spent a lot of time here, and I had friends, family, and a life already built around the city.

I have a good support structure here, with a few very close friends I can come to when I need some comfort. But there, I will be starting life over, alone, without my support. Yes I can call them, or email them, but not in the same casual manner I can now. I will not have my crazy family nearby, my boyfriend, my friends, my stuff. My habits will have to change, my expectations, my fears of appearing foolish (because I will, a lot)... I will have to go through everything alone, for the first time. It makes my stomach hurt, thinking about it. I wish I could just take one person with me, to share the city with. I wish I could transport aspects of my life over to London. Just stick my best friend and my favorite cafe in a handbag and get on the plane. I'd feel much happier.

Speaking of the plane, I've been trying to decide how to deal with that. Who will drop me off at the airport on the day I leave? Who will wave goodbye and make me cry the least? Or should I just go alone and get it over with? I dread that day. Arrival in London, a few weeks in, school starting.... these are all things I'm terribly nervous about, but I dread the day I have to fly out from SFO. I tear up just thinking about it.

I haven't slept well in two weeks because I'm worried about the move. I'm worried about the loneliness, really. Giving up half of my stuff is not a problem. Starting life in a new city is exciting. Going to CSM is terrifying and exciting. But doing it all by myself, thousands of miles away from everyone and everything I know and love is tainting the situation for me. I am not looking forward to it at all, right now.

My friends are all so proud of me. They like to show me off, and tell people how I got into the greatest school ever. They like to parade me around a little. I put on a decent show, but it kinda irks me. I'm touched that everyone else is happy for me, but they aren't the ones who have to actually do all the hard parts. They get to stay where they are, safe and warm, and smile at the idea of studying abroad. It's a romantic notion. It's a scary reality. Their lives will be the same, minus me. And for many of them, that will not be a huge difference, just an occasional Me-shaped emptiness that passes by them. I'm the one that will be going through one of the most difficult school programs in the world (which I am not ready for, in my opinion), alone and kind of lost.

I will make new friends. I talk easily. I will find new favorite cafes and bars. I will get to know the transit lines, and the cheapest food stores, and the ways in which British culture will accept my strange quirks. I will come to understand social expectations, and cultural taboos, and ways to walk the edges of sub cultures, the way I do here. I know boundaries here, and I know when I cross them, or what sort of statement I make, and confusion I cause with my appearance or my actions. Before I attempt to cross any lines and make my own place in the world, I need to learn where the lines are. We speak a similar language, but it is not the same. Our cultures are similar, but it is a different world. I AM moving to a FOREIGN country.

What it comes down to is that I am scared of being lonely. I do not trust my own judgement, or decisions. I worry I am making mistakes every step of the way until I get where I'm going. I am a harsh, harsh self-critic, and it takes other's presence for me to allow myself the freedom to fuck up. I used to think I was a loner, but I realize now that I need people around me to feel safe. I like my own, quiet time, but to have it forced upon me....

I am just scared.

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