My wanderlust has been replaced with a settlelust.
04.12.2010 - 07.12.2010 -2 °C
In all the action that has been happening in my life lately, the date of December 4, 2010 passed by me without a thought. It was only this morning, as I was contemplating life in the shower while waiting for the conditioner to work, that I realized the significance of last Saturday.
On December 4th, 2010, I had lived in the UK for two and a half years. The visa I am on is a five year visa, so December 4th, 2010 was the halfway point between the start and end of my visa.
Of course, at this point I plan to stay on in the UK beyond the end of my visa. In two and a half years from now, assume I have been resident in the UK for the five years and am employed; I will be able to get indefinite leave to remain, giving me the right to stay in the UK indefinitely.
So December fourth, 2010 is the midway point of my visa, but hopefully not the midway point of my time in the UK. Even so, the date is significant, and I felt I should sit back and think about what my time in the UK has given me.
I had, when I moved here, planned on making sure I took stock every six months on the anniversary of my landing in the UK. However, life got in the way.
On my first six month anniversary, I was working in Arizona, USA, and finding getting a job awfully tough, so taking stock of my time in the UK was too depressing. I did manage to do an inventory one year out, and last year spent a few months pondering my life in England as I gathered my thoughts after reading about existential migration. Mostly, though, I have been too busy working or living or travelling to do anything but cursorily note the passing of the date.
So today I sat down and had a think about my life in the UK over the past two and a half years. I wanted to be able to say something deep and meaningful about being an immigrant and what life abroad was like, but I couldn’t come up with anything profound. The truth of the matter is that living here is just life.
When I first came to the UK, the whole thing felt like an experiment. A great experiment to determine if I would be fulfilled living away from my native home. A feeling inside me suggested that moving overseas would be a good idea, but until I tried it, I couldn’t be sure if I would take to it.
The first year in the UK was rocky, but by the end of it I was starting to feel like I was settling in. Not just in the everyday sense of getting a job and a place to live and finding friends, but also in the emotional sense. I was feeling comfortable being in London, at being at home.
What perplexed me, back in June of 2009 on my one year anniversary, was why I was feeling settled. What was it about being in London that seemed to comfort me? A month later, one year and one month into my time in the UK, I stumbled upon the concept of existential migration, and came to the realisation that this was “the something inside me” that had driven the move overseas. I spent a few months delving deep into my psyche to examine my migration desires, and wrote a few blog entries on the topic.
Then something strange happened. Feeling settled, and with an explanation in hand that I was going through an existential migration, I stopped feeling the need to be introspective about my life abroad. My desire to be an immigrant didn’t go away, but my need to understand and explain it did. I stopped thinking about my life, and just spent my time living it.
I have now reached a point when I have stopped thinking about this being an experiment to live abroad, and I am now just comfortable in calling this my life.
It is a life different than what I lived in Toronto, though. When I was a consultant in Toronto, I spent most of my time on the road. If I was at home for a few weeks, I got itchy feet and wanted to travel again. In London, I don’t feel that way. I am happy being at home, and over the past year when I have had to travel to Hungary or Paris or Zurich, I actually wanted to make the trip as quick as possible to get back to my own bed. I actually would rather be at home than on the road. It is an anti-wanderlust – a settlelust.
This settlelust is reflected in the travel I haven’t done. I spoke in a previous blog entry about how uninspired I was in the build up to my planned trip over Christmas last year to Morocco, and how I wasn’t all that fused when it got cancelled. I also, when I came over, planned to spend at least one weekend away from London a month, taking advantage of fast trains and cheap flights to explore Europe. I haven’t even come close to meeting that plan. For the first year and half, I kept up the pretence of that being my goal, but that events transpired in a way that it kept getting interrupted. Now I don’t even really bother with the pretence of it anymore. Right now, I am just happy to be in London and in my own bed at night.
So on second thought, maybe I do have a big revelation – something profound to say. After two and a half years, I can say this. I am no longer just trying this “living away from Canada” thing. The experiment is over, and it was a success.
The transplant has taken. London is now my home.