TWIP: This Week in Progress
(alternately titled I Think I'm in Mourning and Maybe Spilling My Feelings Here Will Cleanse Me)
Six months ago, I thought there was nothing bad with study abroad. I was actively editing a book that now has been contracted for e-publishing (!!!!). I did not know who Anakin Skywalker was. If you handed me a packet of tea, I would've hotfooted it the five minutes down to the lake and tossed it into the water. I also was not exactly interested in American history.
I was so innocent. (melodramatic time? Oh yeah.)
One, I never thought about after study abroad. There was never any point. Who cared what happened after? I wrongly assumed that, like a rubber band stretched or an ear plug squeezed, things would revert no worse for wear. So nobody explained that going from weekends spent wandering art galleries hidden inside castles, lounging in tea houses, and partying in clubs or pubs literally set in sandstone caves to living in a small town where the college students work out or get wasted to relax and having homework that's reduced me to tears once already might, possibly, send me into a bit of a shock.
It sounds really stupid, but I didn't realize how much study abroad would change me. That studying abroad wouldn't fill the desire to travel I carry around inside me; it would rip it open into a hungry void, reminding me that there are so many places left to visit, and so little money and time for me to put towards it.
I've been home for a good two months and now mentally equate my time abroad and its aftermath to a romantic relationship: it was something new and wild and carefree that ultimately ended up with a separation, complete with flashbacks and a haunting of my waking days. I mean, I don't think a day's gone past when I don't slow a little, thinking of it. Someone's laugh reminding me of a friend's I left in England, my law homework reminding me of a friend who was at Nottingham to finish her law degree, drunken laughter outside my window similar to that I heard outside my housing overseas.
Maybe study abroad spoiled me; I don't know. For the last eleven days I was in England, I backpacked with three friends across Edinburgh, Dublin, Bath, Oxford, and London. It's actually these days that haunt me the most, because of the sheer adventure of it all. We slept in hostels, sharing rooms and tables with Germans, New Zealanders, and Brits alike. Up at dawn, our feet and the Underground moved us until we stumbled back after light had left the sky. We would make a cup of tea--
OH. Yeah. I drink tea now. Me, the one who told countless Boston Harbor jokes before I left, who only went to a tea house because I wanted to try afternoon tea. Now, I drink it to relax and when it's too late for coffee. I'm considering...now get this...purchasing a kettle. Past Me would grab Present Me by the shoulders and demand, "Who are you??" It's such a cultural thing in England, though: once I even saw a boy walking down the street with a ceramic mug, sipping it and chatting with his friend.
After we'd made our tea in the public kitchen, my one friend cracked open her laptop and showed me Star Wars. The premiere was happening when we were in Dublin, and blissfully innocent me was like, "So what on earth are those about, anyway? What's the hullabaloo about?" Because people were going crazy. One night in Bath, we popped into the common room and found this New Zealand guy streaming all of the movies in chronological order, and we came in halfway through the first prequel, I think. I was half-watching, half-on my laptop, and asked if Luke Skywalker and this new kid Anakin were brothers. My friend explained that Anakin was Luke's dad and I nodded. Then, when Anakin started turning a little shifty, I slammed my gaze from my laptop screen and remembered the only quote I'd ever heard from the movies. "DOES ANAKIN BECOME DARTH VADER?" I yelped, proud of my deduction. The room (now crammed with ten people) went dead quiet, and one girl whispered, "Such innocence."
I still haven't seen the third of the prequels, or the third of the originals (I know, shame on me), but I was reading the Lunar Chronicles a couple of nights ago and legitimately thought, "Ah, hmmm....so is the Lunar gift sort of like the Force, then?" and I was so ashamed that I texted it to my mom. So, anyone reading this who has seen Star Wars and read the Lunar Chronicles, please share your thoughts on the matter.
Lastly (this is a long post, but I'm ranting, remember), a certain sold-out musical about a certain founding father has been sort-of/not helping me be productive lately. In Oxford, the same friend who showed me Star Wars introduced me to the musical Hamilton, and I've been listening to it ever since. It's extremely catchy and deep and sad and hilarious, so I'll listen to it to pump myself up while doing homework, or while I'm drawing. And it's not easy to focus on new story ideas while someone is rapping about debt plans and torrid affairs and duels, just saying. On top of that, I have really strong memories of running around Oxford and traveling on the train to London whenever I listen, because that's where I first heard it.
I just needed to write to get this all out of me. Hopefully I'll be feeling less...not depressed, but wistful about study abroad now, and not so surprised about my new interests. :P I'm not even that big on the Star Wars movies, it's just how interesting the concepts are. Plus the new movie was amazing. And I kind of want a light saber. Plus tickets to Hamilton. But neither of those things are probably going to happen, so hopefully I'll go back to writing about exciting things instead of moping about them!
If you survived until the end, thanks for hanging with me. :3