According to the wonder that is Facebook memories, on this day 3 years ago I received my offer to University College London for my Masters degree in Museum Studies. From there I accepted, moved to London, and proceeded to spend one of the best years of my life in the United Kingdom.
I feel a little unoriginal when I talk about my time in London. Life changing may be too bold, but I will never shy away from calling London my Place. I tell people it feels like the city I’m meant to be in. While living there I had people at home say they saw a difference in my life. They saw the relationships I was building, they saw how quickly I became comfortable and made a life.
Unlike a lot of Americans I know who studied aboard I wasn’t jet-setting every weekend. I went away on trips out of the UK only three times. Twice to Ireland and once on a full two week tour of Europe. I spent my year in the UK actually living in the UK, and I think that made all the difference. The friends I made weren’t American, they were British, Irish, Scottish, and Italian. They lived and worked and studied in London with me and they gladly folded me into their lives.
To them I pretty much dropped out of no where. With maybe a handful of acquaintances in the YouTube scene and the help of a fellow American with a handful more, I hoped I’d make friends. I was purposeful in my relationships. Even though I only had a year, I would make friends and I would make the most of my move.
I was pretty lonely from September to December. I met a majority of the people I would later be closest to at a pub called The Miller and then a couple weeks later at a New Year’s Eve party I was graciously invited too. At the party I knew 1 person and I left knowing just a few more. From there it snowballed. I’ve never felt more welcomed by a group of people. And the weird thing was everyone I met was connected in some way. Because of YouTube everyone knew everyone. The more I was invited to things the more I learned. This person had dated this person, this person worked on that video shoot, those people lived together, or went to school together, it went on and on. As a natural networker I was in friendship heaven.
I’ve never been a person who had a friend group. I always had a friend here and a friend there, but you rarely caught me hanging out with the same people over and over again. In the UK that was different. I had my people. I felt welcomed and loved and accepted and inspired and happy. For at least three months after I moved back to he United States I was very deeply unhappy. I missed my people.
With time I got better. I found things to distract me and found ways to see some of the people from the UK in the US a couple times a year. However, I’m afraid that I’ll never again feel a part of something like I did in the UK. And I feel very silly, because I miss everyone so much. I miss them literally daily, but I know they don’t feel the same.
I was a tornado that came sweeping through, and then left just as suddenly. Everyone continued on after I left, they still had each other. They continue day to day doing the same things. Throwing fancy dress parties, going to the pub, becoming better friends. Meanwhile I had to find a new life, moved to a new city, tried to move on while still feeling like I should be somewhere else.
I feel very pressured not to feel this way. My head says I need to get over it. I will never be able to move back to the UK. The chances are pretty much non existent. I will never be able to live that life again. It’s been TWO YEARS (almost). I just really hate knowing that I feel one way while the people I feel that way about don’t share those feelings. And what scares me the most is that I might have over estimated my relationships with people. I may have over-corrected the relationships to more than they actually were, which of course just makes things 10 times worse.
I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for a while, and I felt like I needed to get them out. To share them in some way. It’s not like I’ll never see those people again, I just ache for the close and constant comfort of them. For knowing that I’m wanted and accepted. That I don’t have to explain away my values or interests.
These friendships aren’t over, they’re just across the ocean. I will continue to always rely on the internet to stay connected with those friends and others I’ve had the fortune to make through the years. I just wish that they could be here, or I could be there, and that maybe once and a while, even though I’m out of sight, I’m not always out of mind.