Ironically enough, I'm not able to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine here in the States, but in London I was able to devour it via Netflix, and I watched it a lot between running around London, working at my museum, and writing my dissertation. Two things were constant in my Clapham flat: me making steaming bowls of instant ramen to get full, and plowing through B99 while I ate. The gif to your right is a funny quote, but it's also one I identify with right now.
A lot of things are up in the air for me. Not in a horrible way; more of a mildly uncomfortable way, like a sweater that's too itchy but you're in public and have a full schedule so you can't go home and change until the end of the day. I almost considered trashing this website completely because I'm so crisscrossed with everything going on. I don't plan on publishing any more books in the next year (though five more are contracted), unless I find a pocket of free time to deal with that. And on Friday, I'll have been in the United States for a month. It's confusing, because that's not a very long time, but it also is a very long time. I haven't been in London for a month. I didn't exactly have culture shock when I got back, but it's been weird not writing time in the 24-hour format, and it sucks that I have to Facebook video call my friends instead of just meeting up in a cafe somewhere. I also have to deal with 5-hr and 12/13-hr time differences when planning these, which is not ideal. I miss the foods I used to eat (though I did order kimchi from Oregon and that was a blessing) and being able to visit museums. I really miss museums; I didn't realise how often I went until I left. I miss walking everywhere, and the camaraderie and infuriating business of the Tube. It's begun to snow here. I miss the Christmas lights on Oxford street, and my museum in King's Cross, and espresso coffee. That was a genuine betrayal of my core beliefs--I hated espresso until it was the only thing available in London. Now filter coffee often tastes too watery.
I do not miss sleeping in a frozen flat where the radiator doesn't work, air-drying my clothes outside because hardly anyone has a dryer, or paying £34 a week in transport once my student discounts expired. I really like my cushy queen-sized bed that everyone comes and sits on, lying down on the couch (god I missed couches in London), and my bookcase, and my car, and having tons of food in the kitchen. When I first got home, I was starving all the time and didn't know why. My sister said it was because I had food readily available for the first time in a year, and I think she had a point. In London I would only buy enough food to survive on, and here there's a full cupboard and fridge.
Some funny things have happened. I get yelled at when I say, 'bin' instead of 'trash can', I ordered pub chips at a restaurant and got really bewildered when they gave me handmade potato chips instead of thickly-cut potato wedges, and one time we went out to eat and I was focused so hard on not saying 'takeaway' that it came out 'Can I please get it, like...to go?' and I sounded like a complete idiot.
I've applied to museums and art companies in New York City, New Jersey (Princeton), Massachusetts, London, Edinburgh, Singapore, and Hong Kong. In the process I've learned that the world has many, many art museums I've never been to, and that deeply excites me. I've also picked up freelance work as a website designer and social media manager for a local coffee business, something that was a complete fluke but I'm very happy to have. It keeps my mind and hands busy, and I come home smelling like coffee, which is nice. I also will be doing some freelance work for a bookstore I worked at two summers ago: this is something that will look really good on my CV while I wait to hear back from museums (which hopefully will be soon. So far it's only been three or so rejections and then complete radio silence, and I've applied to lots of places). I have my heart set on four or five of them, and we'll see if any bat an eye in my direction.
That's all for now, and I'll definitely post something again when the dust settles and I can definitively say what'll happen next.
P.S. - below is something I wrote to express myself after coming back from London, maybe two weeks after I'd been back. If you care to read it, you can click 'Read More' below.
I am so tired all the time.
I’ve been tired ever since I woke up at 6:00 and folded the sheets on my bed that was not mine, and stared tiredly at my luggage that was too big for someone my size to haul across the ocean, and tried desperately not to cry when my flatmate wandered down in her parka with her bear, and played a Jay Chou song about waiting for a loved one to return. I remember the song began to play and it felt like tiny embers
were being crushed by a boot in my stomach.
‘Do you want me to walk you to the station?’
‘The bus stop?’
‘No, I should do it myself. You should go back to sleep. Don’t you have work later?’
I left before the sun rose, dragging (pushing, heaving, slightly panicking)
a worn London Fog suitcase across a street devoid of cars.
I didn’t mourn on the flight back—I think this was mi culpa terrible.
I was too busy making sure I was dressed prettily enough to get someone to help me with my suitcase, duffel and backpack that were all overweight to Heathrow (It worked. I wore sheer black tights and a modern business dress just short and professional enough under a slim men’s pea coat—a man stopped to offer assistance at every escalator and stairwell from Clapham to the Piccadilly line).
I arrived at Heathrow and got my suitcase stuck in the dip between the lift and the floor.
I got confused because at first my ticket could not be found.
After a moment I realised I had to search for London to Dublin, not London to Toronto.
I was sweating, and nervous, waiting in the Aer Lingus queue for too long and then having my overweight luggage forgiven by a hassled stewardess who waved me through to security even though it was 3kg overweight.
I didn’t mourn when I sat eating breakfast ramen and wrapping napkins around hojicha because the plastic cup was so hot. I kept worrying about my Adidas duffel (so bulky) and my Swiss Army backpack I’ve had since freshman year of college (so heavy, with so many books [so overweight but nobody checked and I tried not to wince and sweat too much]).
I worried and wondered what I would do on my 10:50 flight.
I forgot to mourn as they called the flight very late and an old woman took my seat (but I wasn’t about to cause a scene, and the plane had to get going anyway). A man helped me find a spot for my duffel and I shoved my backpack beneath the seat in front of me.
The woman next to me wasn’t very nice and the flight only lasted an hour.
I fell asleep for a little while.
Dublin was beautifully green.
We were late and I had to run for ten minutes through the airport.
I thought I was going to faint and wondered if they would hold the flight if I did.
I was so dehydrated and needed to use the restroom
but had to wait in a new queue to show a man my passport.
‘How long have you been in Dublin?’
‘Ten minutes,’ I huffed.
‘When is your connecting flight in Toronto?’
‘I don’t have one. My father—is driving me home.’
But he’d already waved me on.
Finally I reached the plane and a woman offered to help me lift my stuff
into an overhead compartment. I think I pulled a stomach muscle and was sweating again as I collapsed in an aisle seat. My German seat buddy was very nice and couldn’t get her earbuds to sync with her audiobook, so her phone kept speaking very loudly.
Early on in the flight she said she needed to get up and walk and so chose another seat, leaving me with two seats to myself.
That was luxurious.
I pretended I was a young businesswoman (even though I basically am a young businesswoman?) on her way to a prestigious interview, which was why I was wearing my outfit of choice and looked so professional.
I watched films. Not ones that really interested me too much, though.
I ate as much as I could and drank as much as I could. I was still starving for some reason.
I couldn’t sleep.
The last time I took an eight-hour flight, I almost lost my mind.
I fidgeted. I cried at sad films.
This time I didn’t feel much of anything. Time passed numbly.
In Toronto a man helped me get my luggage down and we had to show our passports at the gate. Customs took so long I wanted to scream. I didn’t know where to find my father.
‘New York? You’re leaving because you don’t like Canada,’ the border officer accused.
I think it was a joke, but instead of smiling he just called, ‘Next.’
It was so much later that my luggage was waiting for me, already tugged off the conveyor.
I traded pounds for dollars from a happy woman to let the $0.20 deficit slide--
‘Just send me a postcard and we’re even,’ she grinned. ‘A nice one.’
For some reason her kindness cheered me up and the fact that we both knew I’d never send her a postcard saddened me.
The drive from Toronto to home spanned an eternity. The sunset and the airport train reminded me of visiting Isa in New York City and confused me.
We stopped to get Subway and coffee. The coffee wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered and the girl gave me Canadian dollars back;
I had four different currencies in my wallet and didn’t know how to feel.
It was like someone else was leaving, not me, or that I was on some absurd vacation.
It didn’t feel like anything permanent. It felt parallel to my current life;
Not quite right but not wrong, either.
The roads were completely black the closer we got to home. Everyone had work, so no one was on the road, even though it was only 21:00. Only 9PM.
The black silence unnerved me.
I had been awake 23 hours and walked in the door to meet a new puppy
and a family waiting up for me. I laughed and smiled and joked.
No time to mourn.
The next day I unpacked after sleeping only a few hours (also wrong: last time I slept over twelve hours straight), angry at my suitcase for being so heavy and hurting my body.
I didn’t mourn.
It rained and hailed, so I couldn’t leave the house to go hiking like I’d planned.
I learned how to get the dog to respect me and befriended her.
I brought home travel guides from the library and applied to exciting jobs all over the world.
I gave a talk at my high school.
It was cold out. There wasn’t much to do.
My sister sold her guitar. I played the piano but my heart wasn’t in it.
One morning I was home alone, coffee percolating as Ten Years by Eason Chan played.
We’d played it in the Camden flat and in the Clapham flat until I could replicate
some of the lyrics convincingly. It’s a sad song; a song that told of late nights singing in the kitchen around a table piled with food, of vodka and soju and Thai Sweet Chili crisps and laughter and performing for buses outside.
Then, later, it was for white wine, strawberry mint tea and French cheese, and sitting on the floor of a bedroom where the radiator didn’t work.
It sounded lonely, sung softly in an empty kitchen by only one girl.
I was looking at Pepper and then sat on the floor and cried.
Cried for who I was in that city, what I could be, and what I left.
For friends and chilly offices and museums
For cafes and haunts and theatres and parks
And cheap escapes and library nooks
For pushing myself until I could go no farther
For the gains outweighing the costs, though the costs were dear
For swimming ponds and heaths where people flew kites and strangers watched the sun set together.
It felt like my heart was breaking.
But I was terrified someone would come home so I locked it up.
And I haven’t mourned yet.
I can’t mourn, because I don’t know how serious the wound is. I don’t know if it’s proper.
I don’t want to hurt the feelings of family members, to make them think I’m unhappy. I don’t want them to think I am greedy. What if I walk back through Heathrow in two months?
When I left the first time and thought I’d never be back, I cried for weeks.
But if I go back soon (within the year, even)
Then I will have cried for nothing. I don’t want to be overdramatic or embarrassing to others.
But what am I, now?
How can I tell my family
that in those foreign streets I found a home that fit me so well I’d never imagined it?
That the future waited just past my fingertips
and promised everything that here does not?
That I felt deeper sadness and anxiety than I’d ever known
but more wonderment and happiness, too?
I was a version of myself that I had always dreamt of.
I am not living, now.
But I am not dead, either. Nor am I sleeping.
I am a stained-glass figure someone has transferred onto wax paper.
In transit. Reverted.
I am waiting.
Maybe they will shatter the stained glass later on.
That remains to be seen.
Do I still exist in that colourful form, where I am whole?
Yes, but somewhere else.
Before I go to sleep, I can hear the sounds of the Tube, the trains, hear the rush of the wind on the Thames. See the sunlight sparkle off the glass of innovative skyscrapers.
Find myself at home in hundreds of people.
Feel the cold of the stars where we walked towards everything and nothing.
I was ambitious, sharp, brave; shining. Nothing could stop me, nothing dared.
Here I don’t know what I am.
I am malleable and small and trying to decide which map to follow.
She is close.
But for now she evades me.
I cannot reach her.
♡ Official website of Rachael Kosinski, 23.