As a little girl- an adventurous, outdoorsy, stubborn little girl – I don’t recall complaining about the cold. I remember complaining about having to eat foods I didn’t find appealing, having to clean up my messes before being able to go out and play, or about being bored with silly adult activities. But when the winter came, the cold never hindered my cravings to play outside, to build snow forts, to run around the snow and fall down hard knowing the plush powdering of flakes would act as a pillow to my snowsuited body. However now as adults all we do is complain. We hate the cold. We hate the heat. We hate to wait in lines. We hate the inconveniences of others. We hate differences. We hate responsibilities. We hate, we bitch, we whine, and we’re smug.
Over the past few years I’ve been trying to find things that I don’t hate. People I don’t hate, places I don’t hate. I’ve been trying to love, and to care, and to retrieve knowledge even from the idiotic incidences. This past year I’ve increasingly been battling with the plight to find what I love and attain it, because it seems as though I’m unable to behold all that I love, or at least all that I would love to pursue. The pursuit of one love means the loss of another, or a few, and vice versa. It’s the equivalent of making a list of all my friends and rating them from my absolute bestest to the one I kind of like, but not really, but still kinda, you know? Except now, these lists are not ever changing like our school yard mates, and listing them present precedence to the life you are choosing to build. It is scary, truly petrifying. And it’s emotionally nauseating.
I have attained many blessings in my life, but in all honesty many have conflicted with each other. The first time I moved to the UK in 2005 I was presented with the opportunity to work in the French Alps throughout the winter months, the hills of Great Malvern outside of Worcestershire in the summertime, and amidst the London hustle and bustle in the fall. I traveled to Nice for a week on my lonesome, and wandered the surrounding cities as freely as one could. But this whole time I wasn’t mentally or emotionally liberated, because I was in a relationship with someone back in North America. I wanted to love both, but in the end I found that I could not, or at least not pursue both loves equally. I was emotionally immature in that I didn’t know how to balance independence and relationships. It was rough, and at the end of one year abroad, I moved home to my boyfriend. I finished school as one was supposed to do, and that was that.
Funnily enough, that seemed to have been a foreshadowing lesson for me to learn from, as 6 years later I would be in an oddly identical situation. The first relationship ended after many differences became evident, and after I discovered I was to blame for losing my independence and my purpose. Shortly before it ended I decided I needed a jumpstart on my life and applied to grad school in Durham, England – the UK once again! Weeks before I accepted a placement offer, this familiar story presented itself to me once more. I somehow fell into a friendship and then relationship with someone again tied to North America, and yet here in front of me sat admittance paperwork to a university abroad. I am highly over-analytical and I saw the signs, I saw the plot lines to this situation and how it could possibly go (again), and I entered into it cautiously. Three and a half years later, I hold a Masters degree from Durham University, am married to someone tied singularly to the United States, and am undergoing immigration processes for me to immigrate south – permanently.
I’ve made highly conscious, but extremely emotion-influenced decisions to have ended up here. Nothing was by accident or by mistake. All was analyzed and rated. I have always been aware that everything I am capable of experiencing (I hold both a Canadian and EU passport and living abroad is simple for me) will either be much harder to experience from here on out or are not possible at all. I will obviously have other possibilities and experiences presented to me that are the blessings found in marriage, relationships, commitments… but they are the things that come unnaturally to me. Although I am a hopeless romantic, I am independent in plans. I don’t know how to plan travel for more than just myself, because I travel to self-explore. I don’t know how to plan family ideals with others, because I grew up under a widowed mother and so I’ve learned through nurture as to how to independently raise children. I don’t know how to commit without the sadness of losing a career I think I would be good at (but of course requires travel, moves, and not great for a family life). I think over the past few years of relationships that if nothing else, I know how to commit to others and support them wholeheartedly.
By the time four years roll around, I will have moved 3 times, the last two to get this relationship on the roads to ‘normalcy’, by which I mean logistically. The first move was to the UK which was all for me. The second was back home because I knew if I didn’t provide evidence of my intentions to move back in the long run he would never truly know that I would. And the third will be this permanent immigration south to the U.S to actually live with him. Along the way, however, these moves have taken sacrifices from me, like my energy levels, my ability to have fun, and increased level of seriousness, and neediness for maturity. I’m… well, tired. I want to have fun, but I’m tired. I’m tired because all I do is plan for finances, moves, government paperwork, immigration, family plans, etc. I’ve given up on even initiating the pursuit of a government based career due to its requirements for posting here, there, and anywhere, and so my joy for a career has turned into a frightening personal battle of feminist vs. self vs. wannabe-professional vs. compromising woman. And so a portion of myself available for amusement and fun has been diminished due to one section of my persona being scrambled and jumbled, and replaced with confusion and internal arguments reoccurring in my overwhelmed brain. I’m actually a spontaneous person, but how can I be spontaneous when even my gas money is budgeted in order for my finances to pay off rent, student loans, car payments, and impending immigration plans. I always told myself money didn’t matter as long as I was happy living where I was. And I’m not. And sadly this means money matters in order for me to wander elsewhere. I am tired and beaten up by people’s willingness to constantly remind me and criticize me that I need to learn to have fun, that I can’t be serious all the time, that someday I will figure this all out. I don’t feel supported at times in my difficult frustrating nature – I want to be silly and amusing and childish at times, but that ability was diminished when I was presented with the options to continue to live my free-spirited lifestyle or make hugely mature, life impacting decisions to negotiate my endless dreams for a life of love, commitment, and all things that marriage requires (a successful marriage, that is). I am not saying that marriage has made me a bore, but more so the sacrifices I’ve made to commit to a marriage with someone have not come natural to my ‘game plan’ and I have willingly dedicated myself to it with more dedication than I have ever given anything, because it’s an agreement just as firm as any professional contract in that signing it irresponsibly will result in loss, pain, financial strife, and personal doubt.
I’m frustrated in people criticizing how much I am struggling through this, and the toll it has taken on me. I personally know no one who is a wife and a step-mother who is doing the best she can from a distance. I’m not saying that no one else exists, but that everyone available to commentate on my moodiness, my exhaustion, my lack of fun and silliness – they are not dealing with this, only I am. I would love support, I would love someone to understand that I’m sad that my ability to laugh at silly things has lessened over the years, but I’m human and I have had to take my life insanely seriously the past couple of years, and so at times I require the same amount of maturity in return. Otherwise, I’m having to remain serious for everyone which again takes its boring toll on me.
I haven’t lost it all. But I’m not the same as I was, and honestly I’m fine with it. I know that what I do still have are my dreams to travel, to wander, to exist as both the observer and the observed, and above everything else, to learn. And although most of this will never again be as I was most comfortable and happy to dream it to be, they are still my dreams and still mine and still who I am. And so, yes, I am a little more sad and nostalgic when I talk about wandering the coasts of France again, but hugely because the more I’m criticized the more I realize that no one else to sees the real me anymore, but the “faults” which are results from going through the past few years.
I still dream of returning to my wandering the streets of small Chinese villages. I still wish to stroll around the port townships along the Mediterranean. I still envision hiking the Scottish Highlands again, and enjoying a cup of coffee at my favourite hidden cafés in the countryside of England. I want to board the Alps again, cycle around France, befriend regulars at the local bars, and eat fresh fruits under the sun. I’m an adventure junkie, a solo-traveling weirdo, a soul-searching child, and funny genuine woman. And over the past few years, I’ve had to negotiate the activities that make the solo-me me in order to be a strong partner, committed wife, and dedicated step-mother. These are serious roles, and my ideals of fun have been replaced with budgeting for immigration instead of travels. And so my soul is internally playful, but painfully responsible. It’s life, and I’m aware, but please stop critiquing my lacking of fun. I am still fun, I’m just really tired. I want to go outside and play in the snow, make snow angels and feel my cheeks flush up due to the crisp air. I miss running around until I fell into a pile of snowy mounds, because right now all I want to do is cozy up under the mounds of my plush white duvet… I’m not un-fun. And it hurts more than you would imagine when people tell me I am.
Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo