Better to Have Loved

My boyfriend, of all people, was the one to show me this video. And of course I cried as I watched it, but silently and hiding my tears so he wouldn’t see. It’s really worth a watch for anyone who has lost someone they love due to distance.

Previous to the clip, Louie’s girlfriend moved back to her home county in Eastern Europe and he is heartbroken from her leaving. His neighbor definitely has something to say about it though. In essence, he tells Louie, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson. Through this entire process of eventually leaving my boyfriend, this has been our mantra to attempt to get us through less scathed. We keep telling each other that it’s fine that we have this now, because it would’ve been stupid to try and stay away from each other in our small town until I left for London.

The neighbor puts it in a good way to think about when you’re trying to justify why it was all worth it. The pain and suffering you go through when your significant other isn’t in your life anymore proves the love was real, and most people would kill for a love like that. It’s the moment you don’t care about them anymore, is the saddest part. It means the love is gone or has faded, and that’s the true loss through distance that is worse.

As long as I continue to tell myself that all the nights I’m crying and upset over my love and I not being together, are proof that there were real and true emotions in my heart that went along with this person. The day I finally forget about him or ignore him as a part of my life is the most purest death of all. So I will continue to cry and write out my feelings and remember him fondly, and that way it will never have been a mistake to love him. Every happy day I have with him is better than one without.

Tears and Fears

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Right now, the “Are you excited about London? Nervous? It’s coming up really soon!” smalltalk is starting to really kill me. I can’t scream out, “It’s killing me! My body and mind are freaking out and I can’t stick with a singular happy or sad feeling over this enormous life change. Some days I want to cry and some I am too ecstatic for my own good. And dear God, don’t ask me what my boyfriend and I are doing when I leave, because you’ll make me remember that it’s going to be over between us so soon…” But instead I make up some cheesy answer and try to move the topic to something else.

As an introvert, I abhor smalltalk anyways, but the amount I’ve gotten since I announced my London plans have gotten me so awkward and vague that I feel so rude when I give a short answer and immediately stop talking and walk away. When I was studying abroad in 2011, I couldn’t shut up about going to England. I talked about it any chance I got. But that was because it was only for three months, and I’d be back to the people I care about in a short time. This time, I am starting completely over.

It’s hard to think of it as just a one year thing because it could turn into something other than that. I may end up staying in London for the rest of my life. I may move to New York City and never visit the Pacific Northwest again, except to come home for holidays. But if something happens to my elderly parents, there’s not a lot of family left to come home to, so visits to the West Coast would eventually become non-existent. My friends who I currently love will have spread out, or we’ll lose touch and it’ll get too awkward to even message them on Facebook.

And worst of all, the man who I currently love will no longer be a part of my life and leaving him in September is going to hurt so much. Even though he’ll be in Europe with me for October and November, this will be the worst December of my life. I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering what would’ve happened if I had never left. I know I’ll have London and traveling to distract me, but it’s going to take a long time to fall out of love with him, and I’m scared to death about ever allowing myself to be involved with someone else, based on how devastating this parting of the ways turns out.

I hate these melancholy blog posts, but I need to get it out. I need to show the good and the bad about this whole process. Moving away, whether it be a few hours or a whole other continent, is tough for anyone, and emotions play just as big of part in the transition as the paperwork and packing. I am a highly sensitive and emotional person, so every aspect of this is hitting me harder than someone who can just easily detach themselves. I will always feel more deeply and intensely than a majority of the people I know, and all the tears I cry as I get closer to my departure day will eventually fade as I adjust to my life in London, but in the meantime, I am allowed to be scared and terrified and hope I come out the other side of this with none of the regrets I am currently fearing right now.

Collect Moments, Not Things

“Collect moments, not things,” echoes steadily through my mind as I go through all my belongings to decide what to keep, and what to give away or sell. The whole quote being, “While you are alive collect moments not things, earn respect not money and enjoy love not luxuries.” ― Aarti Khurana

On all my travels, I felt the need to purchase some kind of souvenir; anything to remember that location by. Often it was shot glasses, mugs, keychains or a flag, I took a physical item home with me to be able to look at and remember that part of my journey. But as I go through all those items, and even stuff that isn’t from my excursions, I start to get nostalgic and it makes it tough to give some things away. And even worse, it’s hard to go through my belongings and realizing that I am starting a new life with only the items I have in these suitcases. From now on, I am a nomad.

I completely aspire to collect moments rather than things, but sometimes it’s hard to give up those “things” that remind you of those moments. For example, while my Harry Potter obsession days are quite over (not obsessed now, but still a huge fan), I have memorabilia I kept over the years that is sort of devastating to give up. Yes, I’ll never use Snape’s wand or Marauder’s Map for anything in the future, but it’s a major part of my childhood that’s fading away with every bit of it I give away or keep in a box at my parents house.

It’s hard to realize what’s important to me, and what I don’t need in my life anymore. What things do I give up so I can fondly remember the moment that went with it instead of having a physical piece of evidence that it was part of my life? What do I want to find among my belongings as a older person, that will evoke a beautiful picture of how my life was in that moment? How does one decide that? How do you compress a life of 23 years, into three suitcases?

Sometimes these thoughts make me feel pretty bleak, but they really shouldn’t. I should feel freed from the idea that I need all these things to make me happy, and instead realize that this is an opportunity to create a life not held down by too many clothes or knick-knacks. After grad school is over, I’ll move out of my tiny dorm in London and maybe stay there but in a new home. But perhaps I’ll move to New York City and find a studio apartment, but then in another few years move to Paris. I don’t want to ever get stuck or held down in one place too long, and by starting now with only the essentials in my life, I feel like I can prepare for a time when I will finally be content with only hoarding moments, instead of things.

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Imagining a Day in my Life in London

In which I imagine a normal day in my life, after having been in London for a few weeks…

The sunlight creeps through my window, making my body naturally react to the rays and I wake up. Looking out over the city, I can’t believe how lucky I am to get such a beautiful view of this city, the one I am calling home for a year of my life. It’s hard to look away and get myself ready for the day, but I pull my gaze towards other things and force myself out of bed. Living in a dorm again was never something I expected to happen again, but the sense of community between my flatmates and I are what makes it alright to be confined to a small, generic room. Joking around at breakfast about the impending Tube strike and wondering when we’re going to randomly run into our first celebrity on the streets, dominate our conversation. We’re all in the same boat. Postgraduate students from all over the world, stuffed into the only housing we felt we could achieve.

I run back to my room to grab my things. I can’t go anywhere in this magnificent city without my camera. I trot down the stairs and out the door into the crisp fall morning. My first stop is the Starbucks, less than 500 feet around the corner. It’s only been a couple weeks, but the baristas already know me and are ready to pour me some brewed coffee into my mug. The warmth of my cup is all that I needed to wake me up to enjoy this day. I start to drink my Pike Place brew (which reminds me of my Seattle home), and head out the door into a ready London.

Besides putting together a bucket list of locations I want to explore, I decide to let the day take me wherever it needs to. Since I’ve already been to all the major tourist attractions (at least four times now), it’s time to find a new nook and cranny of the city that isn’t known to me or the tourist lists that plague the internet. I wander down alleyways and quiet streets. I shoot photographs of all the beautiful and interesting things I see. The way I carry myself is not that of a visitor to this city, but of an artist wanting to capture her surroundings.

I decide that I want to head to Portobello Road, to unearth some new vintage item that I don’t need, so I take the nearest Tube to Notting Hill Gate. Riding the Underground is one of my favorite things to do. Yes, during peak hours it can become a horrible cesspit of unfriendly humans, but during the times when it’s less populated, jumping onboard and coasting along to the intended stop is all I really want to live for. The interesting people who ride make it completely worth the journey. I want to know their backstory. It’s a very “Humans of New York” moment when I want to take a photo of them and ask them a question about their life, but I decide against it as my stop comes up.

Getting off the Tube and trekking up the long escalator to the surface gives me time to relax before walking, however long, to my destination. Wandering down hobbled streets and inhaling the sights, sounds and smells of London are the intention of this year-long program. Portobello Road Market never fails to intrigue me with the beautiful relics and unique items that are for sale from a variety of vendors. The moment I buy a cute shirt for £15 at one shop, but then down the road, find the same one for £10, makes me remember to always check around before committing to buy anything, no matter how much I want it upon first sight.

Hours later, and 500 new images on the memory card, it’s time to go home and actually do homework for the course I am enrolled in. The journey home is never the same as the one you took to get there. There are so many new faces and paths to take to get back to that small haven I sleep and rest in. Upon getting home and flopping down onto the bed, I decide that a cup of tea and some instrumental music is the best way to aid my studies, as I open my laptop to write about the day. This year of my life is intended to create a better writer in me, and every walkabout and exploration I take around this city will bring me closer to becoming a mistress of arts in London-themed creative writing.