Category Archives: Worldwide Player

When I drive myself, my light is found.

When I was soul-searching about living in London after my graduation from Hult, my MBA program, I remember wondering if the novelty might wear off. Would London lose its charm, when then 9-5 grind became habit? Would I find myself in a stupor of work-eat-drink-home-sleep-repeat? I guess ‘wondering’ isn’t the correct term, because I actually found myself worrying that I might fall out of London. Just like in relationships with other people, I find that I have an emotional relationship with the place I live, and each one has both a honeymoon phase and a termination of that honeymoon phase.

With that in mind (plus the increasing prospects that I would not be able to acquire a visa or a paying job sufficient to cover the payments on the alarming student loans I carry), I started to look at coming back to the U.S. To be honest, I didn’t want to come back; I wanted to stay. I wanted to test the limits of my honeymoon with London, and see if maybe there was one place in the world where I simply wouldn’t get sick of being there eventually. But, I needed a backup plan, and Seattle became the only choice I could bear.

I couldn’t be “a New Yorker.” I didn’t want to endure the bitter winters of Chicago or the humid summers of D.C. Thinking I could afford to live within the city limits of San Francisco was a pipe dream, and Denver was too landlocked. Seattle, on the other hand, had several things going for it: a reputation for rain (reminding me of London), a temperate year-round climate, and a terrain and vegetation which reminded me of where I grew up in Alaska without being anywhere near as isolated. Seattle it is, I said, and luckily Seattle wanted me. I snagged a great job at an exciting company, am well rewarded (both professionally and financially) for the work I do, and love the things which compromise my daily 9-to-5 slog… even when I just want to be laying on the couch (I mean, who doesn’t want to be laying on the couch if the terms of payment were the same?).

As I approach my six-month anniversary at my current role, and the slightly more-distant prospect of 10 days in London, I can’t help but feel like I made the right decision. Life didn’t put me here, I made a choice to (temporarily) give up the dream of living long-term in London and come to Seattle. But, I am getting to know great people here, I’m learning a lot, I’m coming to appreciate the life I have even as it develops into something I could never have expected. I don’t know where I will go when my student loans are paid off in six years, if anywhere. I may have roots here in Seattle, and a life too firmly established to leave. I’d like to think that I’m open to whatever options will be presented, and will make choices that make me happy. I can only trust that I’ve been pretty darn good at making these kinds of decisions in the past.

After a gloriously sunny Sunday in Seattle which included spending time with my awesome roommate and neighbor, wandering around a construction site, a great dinner of Mexican food, and some prep work on my new apartment, well,… I think things are going pretty well, and I’m glad to be exactly where I am.

(Even though it will be awesome to visit London (and terrible, because I will undoubtedly feel even more sad to leave).)

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I’ll Take It

This time six months ago, I was waking up on my second day back in the U.S. after nearly-thirteen months in London. I was jetlagged, discouraged, unemployed, broke, heavily indebted, and quickly slipping into an understandable bout of situational depression. Two weeks later, I would have a new job, and a new chapter of my life, starting in Seattle. I couldn’t know that on September 13, 2013. 2012-10-29_1351550682I also couldn’t know that I’d be sitting here on March 13, 2014, still in Seattle, still working at that job, still heavily indebted, but much less discouraged, broke, or depressed.

I couldn’t know that my London levels of happiness and contentment would stay after I came back.

For those who met me when I lived in London, you saw a different personality than one most people knew before I arrived. Not unrecognizably different, but different nonetheless. I was incredibly driven, taking on far more than I knew I could handle, and succeeding at far more than I thought I could. I was adventurous, outgoing, and social, pushing past boundaries in my own mind to ensure that my One Year was also One Of The Best Years. I was also happy. I had this platform upon which my mood always stood, a platform higher than the baseline I had ever sustainably lived at before.2012-10-27_1351335456

Traffic on the tube? Awesome! More time to listen to my music. Tourists on Oxford Street? Cool! Take some time to look at the architecture. Rain? Perfect! Scarves and hoods and some really good photo opportunities. Even hangovers (of which I had far mare per annum than any previous year) were seasoned with the typically-amazing memories of the night before. I was, in short, one of those annoyingly-happy people.

At least, on the average, inside my own mind, that was how I felt. I know that I had lots of struggles, lots of tears, lots of The Emotions and The Drama and even a bit of The Crazy for a while there. But I felt better than I ever have before.

Strangely, I still feel that way, in Seattle. Life, with it’s gains and losses, has put a slightly yellow tint on this happiness–the yellow of sunshine on the aged stones at St. Paul’s Cathedral–, 2013-01-29_1359420127but it’s still the London happiness. It’s the contentment of a life (at least in part) well-spent. It’s still a foreign feeling, but I’m learning that positive emotions are like happy tigers: best left alone.

I don’t know where my life will go in the next five years, or if my debt will ever be gone, or if I’ll ever have the work skills necessary to take my entire life back to the city that gave me this feeling. I do know I’m happy to spend this next five years paying down my debt and acquiring the work skills I’ll need to be successful in London, or anywhere, and being happy while I do it.

It shouldn’t be strange to say, but I really like being happy like this.

Private Transportation

I stepped onto the Light Rail today.

When I had left my building minutes before, my mind was on Bus 550, scheduled at 6:32. Take that to University Street and change to the #2 at 3rd and Union. Get off at 12th and Madison. Simple, easy, app-aided public transportation.

But, it was cold in the tunnel, since the International District station isn’t enclosed. I wasn’t being acutely rained on, but I certainly wasn’t wearing enough layers. Funny how a pair of running tights seems theoretically warm, but only will perform as a warm weather clothing item when one is working out vigorously in them.

After a quick but only mildly confused conversation with the security guard on the platform, it became apparent that I could board whichever vehicle came into the station next, because there were no alternative routes between here and my change point. Simple, like I said, right?

When the Light Rail pulled into the station, I thought nothing of it. That is to say, my mind was on my new ankle boots, on the cute guy in the next seat over, on my stupid running tights that make me think I’m fat. My mind was not on London, or the Underground, or the Piccadilly line as it pulls into Holborn Station headed westbound toward Heathrow.

In the moment the train pulled out of the station, I was pulled out of my mind focused on shoes and guys and tights. I was pulled out of a well-lit and high-ceiling carriage in Seattle. My hands were no longer holding the pole of the Light Rail as I leaned against the glass and gazed at an ad for an apartment complex south of the city. Instead, I was transported: hand resting on a pole the rich blue paint of the Piccadilly line, body leaning against the grey plastic barrier as I leaned forward to prevent the door closing too close to my head. There was the smell of the Undeground air, a stiff combination of breathed air and body odor the heat of the trains. There was the vitality, the hearts pumping and lungs expanding and contracting, the muscles moving, the vocal chords vibrating, and my headphones in my ears to insulate me just a little bit from the sheer, overwhelming mass of life in London.

There is no other place in the entire world that will ever capture me the way London did. I can go back in April, and will love every minute. My heart will wrench at the thought of leaving, from the moment I step off the plane. I will board on a flight back to Seattle and play my songs of leaving, Start Again and Settle by Two Door Cinema Club, Come Fly Away by Benny Benassi, and Home by Phillip Phillips.

The reality is that I will never have enough of London; I will never want to leave and not come back. That ache, for old buildings and sunshine on brick buildings and red buses and crowded trains and fuck, just to feel that alive is a rare and beautiful thing. I should be glad the place that where I feel that will not grow old, will not die, will not change in hugely perceptible ways. After all, the English are still quite traditional, and I doubt flying cars and pneumatic human-tubes will take over the predictable and comfortably uncomfortable Transport for London system.

Strange how public transportation, the bane and avoidance of so many people in my social class, can inspire me to longing for the life I once had and hope to have again. No car, no freedom, no luxury, no ride, no backseat, no surround sound, no fucking satellite radio or DVD screens for my kids, none of it will ever replace London. London is irascible and irreplaceable, and dammit, that’s why I love it.

365 Ago

This morning started out like most mornings in Seattle: rain lashing the windows of my apartment. Unlike most mornings–it being Saturday–I had the luxury of rolling over until the sun was properly risen–behind the clouds–and the rain subsided. The message was clear: it is Autumn.

Autumn on the weekends mean sweatshirts. I’ve never been one of those girls who considers brunch a reason for makeup and blouses. To me, weekend means relaxation of all weekday routines and an increase in general comfort. When I went into the closet, I passed by the new Trail Blazers sweatshirt from Portland and my colorblock Parisian choice, settling on a navy sweatshirt crossed with a giant white X. Suddenly, my mind was propelled back in time.

One year ago, I was in Scotland. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was tucked into a pub with friends after a long train ride north. We had stepped onto the platform into a frigid November day, with crystal blue skies and a light but biting wind. Hiking up to the Royal Mile, we assembled ourselves into our little flat, taking care to turn the heat up and ensure a toasty return. Then, we ventured forth: a handful of pubs, one delicious meal of rabbit and potato, and a chilly walk through a dark but breathtaking city center lead us to pints of cider and live music. I was surrounded by some of my favorite people: people who brought joy into my heart, whom I felt comfortable around, and who I was blessed to have in my life.

What a difference a year can make.

I often find myself wandering back into Last Year, thinking almost wistfully of horrid Accounting lectures and the boredom of International Marketing class… funny that I ended up in Marketing after all. Sometimes, I note dates by their -365 equivalent: how happy I am versus then, how adventurous my life is when compared, or simply how much I feel the constant ache of missing London and a year that no one could possibly appreciate as much as it begged appreciation.

This isn’t uncommon for me, as I spent most of the first two years after graduating undergrad doing the same. I’d painfully keep track of my present life on a calender from my past. I remember the first time I realized something had occurred on the past calendar which I hadn’t noted in my present, and realized I was letting go.

I wonder if that will ever happen with my first year in London. Will I ever want it to? Can I stop it?

I don’t need to live that life again: it was beautiful and precious in its uniqueness. We–my classmates and I–captured every moment we could, between the group assignments and final presentations. We traveled frequently, ate and drank glutinously, and laughed heartily. I just wonder how long the memories will bring forth a sharp pang in the left side of my chest.

It’s nice to know I have a heart, but damn it hurts sometimes.

The rest of that weekend in Edinburgh exists in my memory on parallel with the picturesque Friday evening: haggis for breakfast, castles and closes, lochs and an isolated and beautiful pub meal with the best sticky toffee pudding I’ll ever have in my life. It is one of the highlights of my year in Europe as the first trip I took out of England. I wish I could say it is irrevocably marked, but I fear nothing is so permanent. Probably the greatest moment to look back and appreciate it with the acuity of emotions and clarity of inner eye is the moment I have now.

Seattle Wins Another Round

Every time I board the public transit in Seattle, I have to give myself a little mental shake. It’s just a reminder, hey remember, this isn’t London.

It’s lot like I don’t know it’s not London. I know every day, from the moment I wake up until the moments when I can’t fall asleep at night. The noises aren’t right, the smell isn’t right, the small part of my soul that I didn’t know could be so contented isn’t contented. I get it, it’s not London. Don’t remind me.

But I take the bus in Seattle because I don’t have a car, don’t want a car, don’t need a car. The bus system is actually remarkably efficient where I live: at least three buses go from very close to my flat, er, apartment directly to a stop outside my work building. At least eight buses come back to a stop near my flat. We picked a good part of town to live in, from that perspective. But, there are just so many things that are different within the microcosm of the Seattle Bus from the London Bus.

Gone are the diverted glances lest anyone actually realize how close we are to one another. Gone are the efficient seating charts and double-deckers. Gone is the soothing but real English voice, replaced by a computerized attempt at the same thing but with an American accent. Gone is the satisfying beep of they Oyster card reader.

Interestingly however, there is one remarkable thing present on the Seattle buses that isn’t present in London. Part of the reason for this is logistics: in London, everyone embarks the front doors, and debarks the back of the bus. In Seattle, everyone comes on near the driver, but you can go out either the front or back doors, depending on which is convenient. So, far more than in London, people pass the driver when leaving. Despite this, I still can’t explain how nearly everyone says goodbye, or goodnight, or thanks, or have a good evening as they get off the bus. Everyone gives the driver gratitude for a safe ride or wishes him or her well.

Maybe this shouldn’t be so remarkable; after all, English people are known for being stiff-lipped and stuffy. The reality is they aren’t. English people are totally friendly and nice, about as often as everyone else from every other country I’ve visited or lived in.

In Seattle though, the driver gets a special accord. The driver is well-regarded and appreciated, even when the bus is late or hits traffic or there’s nowhere to sit or the crazy homeless guy is still talking to the little ambient space in the bus.

That makes me proud to be a budding Seattlite, even if I’m technically not allowed to consider myself such after just a week here.