When it's been a while and people ask you, "What's new?" how do you typically respond? I sigh. (Every time)
It's like the phrase, "You all right?" as a greeting, not as an actual question. It took me weeks to get used to being asked if I was okay about 20 times a day. By the end of some days, an unlucky flat mate who would nod and say, "Ya'all right?" in my direction would get a very emphatic and somewhat exasperated "Yes, I'm FINE!!!" from me. But I've come to learn all of these people aren't really thinking that I look like I'm not all right ... they were just saying hello. Now I take pleasure in saying, "Yeah, you?" I can't initiate it as a greeting just yet. My speech pattern is too American to pull it off. Though I can't help but wonder when greetings like "what's up? How's it going? You all right? What's new?" became something to which we don't really want a response that includes detail or discourse. When did we stop caring? Somewhere between our grande lattes and two o'clock meetings? I'm not sure when I lost my attention span.
Adjusting to a new environment has not been an easy transition. Though I've had quite a busy 12 months. Twelve months ago today I was still married, living in a house we'd just built, working at a job celebrating three years there although I hated it and didn't want to celebrate Christmas because I was unhappy. I knew, however, deep in my gut that my life was about to change. Drastically. I felt it on the air, in my bones as I went to sleep - that with the beginning of the new year my regular routine wasn't going to be regular anymore. January saw the beginning of a new life for me with a dissolution of a marriage that wasn't really a marriage, anyway. It was two close friends sharing four walls and a yard who were good at accomplishing tasks together. February saw me living in my parents house for the first time since I was 18. March was full of me going to dance classes and coming home to cry.
April was the turning point. April saw me saying, "I wanted a change. Now change it. You've got nothing but a pocket full of dreams. Place it all on one big chance, one big dream and jump with both feet. See what happens." I never thought about failing. An email was sent to a University in the UK. "I'm passionate about pursuing my education in English Language. If this is something I can do with your University, please contact me." Enter. Send. Back to the job I hated. May saw a response. "Yes, please send your transcripts. Are you coming to the UK?" Enter. Send. Plane ticket booked for June. June saw me and my sister in England to see if I liked the city, see what the school looked like, see if I was accepted or not. I was accepted without hesitation - full entry without having to apply through the normal channels. If I wanted the placement, it was mine. I still laugh when I think about the admissions manager asking me if I'd applied to other Universities in the UK, also and I replied that actually, no ... I'd put all my eggs in one basket and wanted into this specific University. His expression was priceless. I'm guessing not a lot of people do that. July and August saw me working every night after my day job to apply for my UK immigration paperwork, finding a room with the University, selling my car, selling my furniture, packing my things into the basement, giving work ample notice that I was leaving.
September saw me flying to Memphis to say a final goodbye to my family who, in all reality, I won't see for a long time. It saw me having my last day at work, saying goodbye to family and getting on a plane for a new life. September saw the serendipitous meeting of me and my new group of friends, the first day of University and so many other firsts. October was lectures, halloween, football games. November saw more lectures, bronchitis, long walks, student life, friendships growing deeper. December brings the end of term and lovely Christmas traditions that I'll remember forever. Decorating the Christmas tree with J, watching movies with my friends all day, exchanging presents under the tree, writing holiday cards, checking the post every day for cards from friends, family and people I still have hope for, getting ready for traveling and lots of snow.
12 months. Relationships. Jobs. Schools. Different lives. Happy times. Sad times. And all of the in between.
All the while I can't help but wonder - Am I in the inbetween? Or is this the beginning? Or am I at the end of something? And why, when I've done so much and come so far, do I feel like I'm only half of something rather than whole...