From A Resident Alien [letter 4]

LetterwritingLetter 4

It's always the best of times and the worst of times.  Always.

Even when we are at our lowest, the poetics of melancholy are with us and the seeds of future joy are being sown; and when we are on top of the world, the world is seeking and discovering new ways to be on top of us.  Sun is the bringer of death and drought, as well as fruitfulness and fun.  Etc.etc.

A little story:

When I was little – four or five – I had a jumper that I loved.  I wanted to wear it every day, and got upset when it needed washing.  It was the best thing ever.

Then, one day, I found that it had a hole in it.  I was mortified, horrified.  But my wonderful Mum stepped up to the sewing plate to mend the rend, and hugged me in the meantime.  So I had my jumper back, and all was well.

And then another hole, then another.  The truth: my jumper was getting too small for me.  I couldn't wear it anymore.

But I kept it.  I couldn't just throw it away, could I?  So I held on to it.

Why I'm telling you this:

The process of getting orientated to a new place (new friends, new currency, new culture, new priorities, new vocabulary, new paper-size, new climatic conditions, new systems, new radio stations, new wildlife, new food, new political climate, new geography) is uncomfortable.  It's a new piece of clothing, replacing something closer to my taste, style, preference.

The tempting thing is to cling on to what I've left behind.

I did this when I left Hertfordshire, where I grew up.  I remember sitting in the middle of the Bush in Zimbabwe, with only antelope and savannah for company, LONGING to be back in a commuter town in England in midwinter.  I also did it when I left Sheffield after Uni, when I left New Zealand in 2006, and when we left Edinburgh in 2009, as well as on every occasion when I have been torn apart from my friends of The Factory.

And now I'm doing it after leaving my beloved homeland.

So while, in many ways, these are the best of times – really good things happening with great new people, and foundations possibly being laid for the next decades of life – they are also the worst of times.

Like a new pair of shoes that are giving me blisters.


[To read previous letters, go here, here, and here.]


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