TRANSIT / ION.
Trip Start Jul 02, 2013
35Trip End Ongoing
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I have spent this past week of body clock adjustment and amazing weather trying to decide if we have been in Transit or Transition. You would think they are the same thing, but actually Transit is "Carrying goods, material or people from one place to the other"… Very practical, very blunt, rather tangible. Transition however, is “The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”.
First – Transit. There is actually nothing funny or exciting to tell you about being in transit from Melbourne to London. Basically it's excruciatingly long and uncomfortable, it’s restlessness mixed with tired delirium and finally the after effects of a sleeping pill mixed with the bodily repercussions of plane meals. You lose all patience and caring about your appearance and your manners.
Normally I avoid conflict like you would seeing the most annoying work colleague at the supermarket, but I do possess subtle passive aggressive tendencies. So when the six foot something man in the chair in front didn’t return it to the upright position for food service time, I savagely fossicked through the back pocket making sure I pushed much harder than pulled like kneading a pizza dough. Tracey, who is known to speak up without thought or notice, simply asked the flight attendant to request they do it. So simple, so obvious. Proof that when confined to a tiny fake oxygen filled cabin with too many other people for a long period of time, normally small things become large battles. I was however, still unable to return the gesture, when the polite attendant continuously called Tracey “Sir”.. Tracey’s confusion meant I had to pick between saying her face looked manly or her clothes, so obviously I picked 'outfit’, which of course meant the first thing we did when we arrived was shopping.. for some feminine tops, while still wearing the weary look of a very long transit.
Now for ‘Transition’. We had already ‘transitioned’ from Londonites back to suburban Aussies. I vividly recall the relief I felt when we had decided it was the only fitting idea to return home. Not only did we crave our families and familiarity after the reality check of losing such a close loved one, but we had honestly battled our way through London life in the first place. And saying the words ‘we are going home’ felt like getting rid of the very last piece of your ex’s stuff from your house.
London and I had had a turbulent bipolar relationship. (Not to offend Bipolarians, I genuinely understand the turmoil of the condition). But gee, did I absolutely love and hate London all at once. The initial transition to London life felt like I was a lost small child at a fair ground. I had come from a stunning country town, where I was the only person walking my dogs at sun rise by the awe of the ocean, to navigating my path through a sea of people, side stepping and shuffling as if I was a hardcore backup dancer. I found it hard to breath. I found it hard to just see some sky. I found it hard to comprehend that in my building there could be a person going to the toilet exactly above the place I was going to the toilet. But at the same time there was something comforting about being just one little inconspicuous ant in a big giant city - I certainly stood out far less than a lone walker on my own beach.
London was full of highs and lows, for us and in it’s own right. The East End where we settled was an odd combination of ghetto and cool. The home of fashion and design, amongst traditional Bangladeshi butchers and dirty filthy streets VERSUS a walk through the West End where the elite get dropped off at the theatre in shiny black cars wearing long fancy overcoats, and lush tree’s line the clean entrances to expensive shops. There is an obvious imbedded hierarchy system in England. Sadly it exists in the history, it exists in everyday society even now, it exists in the workplace and it exists in the mindsets. It makes it very hard to exist in it, when you are already questioning where you fit.
Then there was the highs of summer – festivals, relaxing in the park with nature and friends, barbeques, markets, exploring canals and eccentric avenues on our bikes, dinner parties and getting messy VERSUS the lows of winter – watching the sun go down from my work desk, wrapping my face with a scarf for the two minute fast walk from the station to home, flicking endlessly through bad UK TV with a nanna rug scrunched up to my neck, squeezing to the bar for a drink as every other crazy person who dared leave the house is here, darting for a coffee on Sunday morning only to return home so cold the only thing left to do was to go back to bed.
I loved the multiculturalism of London. I hated my unchallenging job. I loved exploring the quant shops packed in amongst each other at every turn. I hated that I could not afford the lifestyle I wanted, that my friend could. I loved sitting and watching such a diverse spread of people. I hated listening to the tramps yelling outside my window at night. I loved that I was so incredibly inspired by the alternative area I lived. I hated that I was stuck in a daily existence and had no space or capacity to develop my many ideas. I loved the array of food and coffee on offer. I hated that I had a strict semi-self imposed budget that I ate the same weekly meal plan.
I loved London and I hated London. I hated that I loved London, and hated that I hated London. The ultimate inner struggle.
It was such a difficult time for us. We were a new couple who were meant to be having crazy adventures and enjoying each other and our new life. Instead we felt bottled and aimless. We would save, save, save, then lash out on a trip somewhere for a week or two, finally feeling like ourselves with our wings spread. Then back to the London shuffle to earn more. Until our master-plan-trip-idea came along; what a light at the end of it all, the only thing that had purpose and meaning. But it was also the one thing that limited our daily existence, everything became a choice of the moment. This Indian take out now or a meal when we get to India. It was with relief that we went home with amazing memories of a handful of cherished experiences and our tails between our legs.
And here we are back in London. It is amazing how a bit of sun, a more appropriate budget, no responsibilities and an uncapped mindset changes everything. We walk the parks and the streets each day with a bounce. We are discovering the UK we missed out on via our trip planning and soon in reality. We are excited to be amongst the chaos, we spot the cute and the quirky, and we appreciate the people. We smile a lot more. We understand the way London works now and we know where we fit. In a weird way we feel like we have come home – a seemingly seamless transition.
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