Eleven months ago, (eleven months and 5 days to be exact), we left Seattle and arrived in London to begin our two year commitment to all things British. I’ve made observations on this experience before, some positive, some negative. I will be the first to admit, I haven’t had the easiest time since we’ve been here. Even though I *should* know what I’m in for since I spent four years in Germany living the Expat Experience, eleven months in I am still struggling.
Somehow this time feels very different. It is different of course. In Germany we lived in a small town, not a city of 8.5 million. Bonn is clean (to a scary degree sometimes), orderly, quiet. London is obscenely dirty with trash everywhere, and there’s nothing like being woken at 3 am by people singing on the sidewalk. Walking down the street is like utter chaos, dodging tourists, people on cell phones, prams, dogs. After a visit to Oxford Street this weekend, I won’t be going back until fall when the tourist season at least slows a bit. You can hardly walk let alone think in all the noise and crowds.
City life has worn me down. Most days now I choose not to leave my little high street. I am ready for a break. I never thought of myself as much of a lover of suburban America. It’s slow and quiet and you have to drive everywhere.
Reasons I’m missing suburban America: it’s slow and quiet and you have to drive everywhere.
Contradiction but there it is. Even though I’m surrounded by world class museums, art, culture; things I enjoy immensely, I haven’t really felt like creating anything myself until recently.
Lack of space to create definitely doesn’t help (I can’t exactly build a table, paint dressers, or use spray paint in a London row house). I feel like I need to keep trying, or art will also fall away just like writing did. You used to never find me without my fingers glued to a keyboard furiously typing away about this character’s lies, or that characters despicable murdering tendencies.
I rather miss feeling so inspired. The fictional worlds I created spoke to me all hours of the day. I actually used to dream about my characters because in my mind they were so real. I once wrote two chapters on my Blackberry because it was all I had to hand and ‘Kara’ just wouldn’t stop talking to me. I still have little scraps of papers and receipts with notes scribbled on them, and 3×5 cards with story ideas.
When you are a writer and need to write, you use what you have to hand, whenever and wherever.
I haven’t written anything other than a few pages in several years. That makes me really sad because I was told by writing groups, friends and even an agent in a rejection letter, that what I had to say was pretty dang good.
I don’t know where that person who used to churn out the words has gone. At this point, I don’t think that inspiration is coming back. Sorry Scott, you’ll never know who killed your wife and why (her boss, blackmail); we will never know if Mark and Kara survive the aftermath of the car accident (probably, after all, it was their third story, and after getting through Tom’s death, the discovery of Abby’s true paternity, and all that other crap, I think they did deserve some measure of happiness). And the winery story definitely would have needed intense, in depth-research, vineyard-by-vineyard I’m sure.
I’ve wandered off track, not unusual for me.
The desire to go back home to Seattle hasn’t let up. Going back to the place we left, to a home we own, instead of a new location, is a new concept for us. I’m normally adventurous and open to moving around (I definitely didn’t need any prodding to move to London). Maybe it’s because I’m approaching that age where adventure needs to come in a ten day format, instead of a twenty-four month variety.
Either way, 13 months to go.