Monday, May 26, 2008

Week 3: Freebird

So! Happy Memorial Day to all of you jerks in the US who enjoyed a gloriously sunny three-day weekend. We had a three-day weekend too, you know, but it was rainy – so rainy, infact, that I removed "New York" from my iGoogle application. Seeing the cute little yellow suns next to New York contrasted with the boring clouds next to London each day was making me a little feisty.

Anyway, this weekend was my first official Bank Holiday weekend. I guess I technically had a bank holiday weekend my first weekend in London, but I had just landed and was staying at Le Travelodge of King's Cross so I don't really count that. I spent my weekend with friends (see next post), doing regular things like shopping and chatting and getting coffee, so it was relaxing and quite reassuring. I didn't leave town like many people I know, but it was good to spend a weekend in a familiar mode of waking up late, meeting up with people who know me well, and just ambling through the day with no particular plans. It was quite New York in that way, and that made it comfortable.

Adding to my comfort is a thought I had this week, that the flipside of people I know back in the States continuing in their lives without me is that I am also continuing in my life without them. I realized on the train one night that any restrictions I felt in New York have been completely relaxed; like I was wearing a very tight dress and suddenly had the laces undone, I feel like I can breathe deeply on my own for the first time in a very long time. Maybe it's because my new cell phone only has ten numbers in it, and 5 of them are British. Maybe it's because I email people, I instant message them, I even call them, but there is nothing forcing me to see them, to make plans with them – there are no obligations. Obviously I miss everyone I left in the US, but never in my life have I been so truly free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. There are no social plans for me to bail on, no one expecting me to spend time with them because I haven't seen them in two weeks, no one telling me they're pissed at me for not getting back to them about that thing they sent me three weeks ago and it got lost in the inbox of one of my three email addresses because it just wasn't as important as the other 15 things that got lost in my inbox that day.

Breathing is really quite nice. (It's very British to say something is "Quite nice", especially when referring to food - "Pizza Express is quite nice"). It allows your brain to function on a completely different level. I feel much more attentive to the world, I see more, I notice more, I think more complete thoughts. I spend the afternoon at the Victoria & Albert Museum today, and filled four pages of my Moleskin with ideas about culture, art & design, and various other topics for papers I may or may not write. I sketched things, I wandered, and I was completely content. Without restrictions on time, behavior, or actions, creativity seems much more readily available to me. I'm so excited by the possibilities it holds.

You know when someone tells you something, and you know it's important, but you don't quite "get it"? Jane, the therapist I was seeing in New York, told me a lot of those somethings, and one of them is finally sinking in: she tried to stress to me that I need to live with myself at the center of my own universe - not self-centered, but starting out with me in the center and working out from there. I never quite understood what she meant, but I finally do. Being in London, truly on my own for the very first time in a long time and ready for the challenge, has given me a rare opportunity to put myself first in every part of my life. I feel completely in control of myself, and it's a wonderful feeling.

Yes there are ties that bind, but I highly suggest everyone loosen them now and again.

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