Saturday, 18 November 2017

Life is What Happens To Us While We're Making Other Plans

To my knowledge, the earliest published use of this phrase is attributed to Allen Saunders, in an edition of Reader's Digest from the 1950's. It is possibly the most accurate and sobering statement ever made, and I am reminded of it nearly every day.

I'll level with you; I completely forgot about this blog. It was brought up in a recent conversation with a friend of mine, and tonight, I dug it up online. I was feeling a little melancholic, and skimmed through the vast collection of three whole posts I made, from nearly four years ago. From time to time, I'll go back and watch old videos on my youtube channel. It's nice to see myself talk about the times and situations I was in when I recorded them. It feels like a more personable journal, which was the whole point of starting a youtube channel in the first place. But reading these posts from a few years ago on this blog, posts I didn't even remember creating, drew Allen Saunders' quote once again to the forefront of my mind.

In at least one of the old posts on this blog, I talked about how I didn't want to live in Salt Lake ever again. I had my husband and was just getting started in my life as an expat in the UK. Now, I am back living in Salt Lake, and I am, under US law, a single man. I am restarting my life for the second time, and I have a lot of similar feelings that I had when I was on the other side of the Atlantic.

There have been people in Utah, mostly members of my family, who have stepped up and given me a hand in relocating and getting back on my feet. I am extremely grateful for that, which is why there's also a pang of guilt when I entertain the thoughts I have of missing the UK. I met so many lovely people there and experienced so many things; some good and some bad. I found that in many ways, I fit in pretty well with the people there. I would certainly describe myself as a progressive, and saw that a lot of my views were lined up nicely with a lot of Brits. But there were always other things that made me feel less than fully integrated in the culture there, and I don't think the homesickness ever fully went away.

Although a part of me always wanted to come back home, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Throughout my entire five and a half years of living in the UK, I was regularly "checking in" with myself, monitoring if I really felt that staying there was what I felt was best. And when the day came when I started realizing that I should probably move back to America, I started to feel nervous. I had a good thing going in the UK, although I wasn't exactly where I wanted to be in my life. I was comfortable and had done a good job of picking myself up after some devastating events over the previous couple of years. But I felt like, in order for me to continue growing, I had to take the tough (and expensive) step of moving back home. I developed a game plan, a list of things I was going to do to get myself set up for the life I wanted to be living once I was back in the states. I'm proud to say that I've done well with that list, and I think 2018 will have a lot of successes for me. But I still worry.

I worry that I threw away a great opportunity, which was to live abroad in a country that, although not perfect, is pretty fucking cool. I have had to walk away from a lot of places I enjoyed, from my comfortable routine, and I've come far away from some of the dearest people I've ever been blessed to know. I worry that one day down the line, I'm going to look at my life and say, "I never should have left". I worry that, although I have a plan for how to get what I want, life will happen and throw me completely off course again.

I know that in order to make progress, you sometimes have to walk a path that is filled with uncertainty, and that can lead to doubts. I am grateful to have my family closer. I am grateful for my good health and for my safety. I know that I won the lottery when I was born into the circumstances I was born into, and that in a lot of ways, I'm privileged. I realize that a lot of this may sound like whining. It's just that I can't help but feel like I've taken the ultimate gamble by returning home to start again. Hopefully, a few years down the line, I'll be able to look back at that decision, not as a mistake, but as a painful yet necessary step in my journey.

Friday, 31 January 2014

"Why Aren't You Going to School? What Are You Doing?"

Tonight, I thought I'd write up a response to the most common questions I get from friends and family. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "Are you ever going to go to school?" or, "What do you do all day?" These are fair questions. I have a good answer for one, and a not-so-good answer for the other.

I'll start with the question with the underwhelming answer. What do I do all day? I don't know. What am I doing with my life? Yeah...don't have the answer to that one, either. See, I have plans, but those plans can't really be carried out straight away. My goals, I'm afraid, are to be put on hold for the time being. I'll get more into that in a moment. But as for the question about what I do all day...shit, I dunno. For the past several months, my sleeping pattern has been all over the place. I sleep during the day and stay up late into the night. I've developed a bit of a reputation for yawning relentlessly, and my catchphrase has ended up becoming, "You're not boring me, I'm just tired". This perpetual state of sedation has caused my days and nights to become blurred. They go by so quickly, I feel like I don't have the time, or energy, to do anything.

In recent days, I've become much better than I have been in the past at keeping up with the housework. The kitchen has been immaculate, the dust hasn't had much of a chance to collect around the apartment, and I think I've done a pretty good job at keeping the "cat smell" to a minimum. I look for work (those of you who watch my Youtube videos may remember that I was supposed to start a job in December. That fell through, due to no fault of my own or the employer, I'll tell that story later), but, as many can relate, finding a job isn't very easy.

I fill my days with playing my guitar, reading (right now, I'm cheating a little bit and listening to the Lord of the Rings on CD. Not actually reading, but still, better than nothing!), going to the gym, daydreaming, food-shopping...the typical housewife stuff. If only my cooking were up to scratch, I'd be a real June Cleaver. As a homebody, I don't really mind spending so much time indoors, especially since Junior the Kitten came into my life a month ago. But, it's not a particularly fulfilling lifestyle, and in 2015, I hope for that all to change.

2015, eh? Why wait? Because 2015 is when I'm eligible for citizenship. February of 2015, to be exact. In just over a year, I can become a British citizen. That will open a few doors for me; one of which, I'm very excited about. University. Technically, I could go to University now. There's no law that prohibits me from doing so. The problem, though, is that without citizenship, I a) would have to pay much, much higher tuition, and b) would not qualify for a student loan. Financially, it's just not doable in my current situation. After gaining citizenship, University will be a much more realistic option.

If you didn't figure it out by now, going to University is my goal. It's the one big dream for this decade of my life. I'm wanting to get a degree in performing arts. To tell you the truth, everything besides that seems like a waste of time. It's what I've got my heart set on, and I'm determined to make it happen.

So, there's a rather long explanation for what's going on and why I'm not in school. I have every intention of going to school and doing something I enjoy. I just feel like I gotta wait it out for a while before I'm able to take that next step in my journey.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Is There No Cure For Homesickness?

It's something I shy away from talking about with people, but it's always there. I keep from having conversations about it because it's just too tough, awkward, and guilt-inducing. I become heavy-hearted when the topic arises. It's homesickness, and it's something that we've all experienced in one way or another. It's taken my by surprise, though, because I thought that I hated my home. Or at least, I thought I was better suited living somewhere else. I still believe that, but the longing to go home continues to claw at my insides.

Living in Sandy, Utah was dull. There wasn't much for me to do, which was okay during my childhood and early teenage years, where I greatly prefered to stay indoors. I retain that quality, and describing me as a homebody would be accurate. But, when I learned how to drive, I enjoyed taking long drives to some of my favourite places around Sandy. When I moved into the city, it became even more fun, more adventurous, and I quickly found that I didn't even need to get in a car to explore and find interesting places. Salt Lake was an absolute goldmine of character and quirky little gems of places.

Around the time I met George, I was really settling into Salt Lake. I lived in a tiny, not-so-wonderful apartment. Some might call the apartment complex and the surrounding area "ghetto", or shady. And it was. But it was a step in the right direction for me. Throughout the following several months, I lived with Pete and Kendra, an incredible couple, in their house on the other side of the city. It was a beautiful house in a wonderful area. While taking up residence with them, I paid my first visit to the UK, and upon my return, I was lucky enough to be allowed to live with my cousin and one of my greatest friends, Steve, while I made arrangements to move to the UK. Those arrangements ended up becoming delayed and complicated, but that's another story.

I remember my visit to the UK. It was exciting, but I didn't feel like Southampton was compatible with me, especially not after I'd acquired a taste for living in a bustling city. Salt Lake City may not be New York,  Los Angeles, London or Paris, but it's still a good-sized city with plenty going on. Southampton, on the other hand, just felt...empty. Still, I enjoyed my visit and had determined by the end of it that I wanted to take my life there and start a new chapter.

On the last day of May, 2012, I found myself in a car with a British licence plate, driving on the left side of the road, heading back to George house. George was beside me. I looked out the window and saw familiar roads, signs, and areas rushing by. It didn't take long for me to soak George's shoulder in tears as I blubbered, "I miss my mom". I guess it hadn't really hit me until that moment that I wasn't going to see her, or anyone else, or Salt Lake, for a very long time.

That's not to say that I hadn't been preparing for the dramatic shift in my living situation. I worked hard in the months leading up to my departure from the US to be kind to everyone, to take mental pictures of beautiful sunsets and to graciously take in the smells, sounds, and feelings of Utah. I can remember this time of my life so vividly, because I had a heightened sense of awareness. I took time to find beauty in the things and places that had surrounded me for so long. Unfortunately for me, I have failed to discover that same beauty in my current settings.

I thought this longing would go away. I thought I'd adapt by now, that I'd come to terms with living here. I expected I'd get a grip and be able to honestly say Southampton is my home now. But the reality is that in this past year or so, each and every day, a bit of the illusion I've forced myself to see and live by has become more faded, bit by bit. This is not my home. I don't fit in this city.

Now, to be clear, I enjoy the UK on the whole. I really do. There's such a rich and long history here. I like the traditions, pub food is way too good for the low price you can get it at, and I love the documentaries you can catch on TV. I would say that generally, the UK is a better match for me than the US. The culture is far more secular, homosexuality really isn't as hot a topic, and the people seem to have a "live and let live" code that they live by, same as me. And I don't wish to offend George, his family, friends, or anyone else who might read this who lives and loves Southampton. This is their home, just like Salt Lake/Sandy is mine, and I appreciate that. Every strangeland to one is home to another.

Would I move back to the US? No, probably not. I certainly wouldn't move back to Utah. I stand by what I've said in the past about it being right that I move on from that place and explore new horizons. I don't want to go back. I want to stay in the UK. I want to continue to build a life here. But the pains that homesickness bring get to be too much at times. I don't like talking to people directly about it, because the people I know here try to "fix" it, understandably so, and the people I know in Utah just say, "Come back". It's hard to say, but neither of these work. I'm not sure what can be done to help relieve me of the horrible sickness. Southampton just isn't Salt Lake.

Welcome to Methinks! Here's An Introduction

Hi there. I'm Tom, also known on Youtube as BritishInvasion91 (that is, until Youtube forces me to use my real name...I wish they'd stop asking me already). A few years ago, I was having a late-night conversation with my good friend and cousin of mine. We talked about the prospect of me starting a blog. I ended up starting a Youtube channel instead, but the thought of a written blog still remained. So, a few hundred weeks later, I've finally gotten around to setting it up. It's been a long journey; I'm a chronic and hopeless procrastinator.

So, a little bit about me. I'm in my early twenties, American, and living in the UK. I moved to the UK in summer of 2012 on a fiance visa. At the time of my immigration, US law would not permit my long-distance partner, George, to move to the US and become my legal spouse. At least, not to our knowledge (who knows, there may have been some sort of legal loophole to make it happen, but I was growing tired of my home, Utah, and was more than willing to move to the UK and start a new chapter in my life). I got married in summer of 2012, and I received my spouse visa, which allows me to currently live in the UK legally. I live with my husband, and as of January of this year, our furry son-a kitten who goes by the name of Walt Jr. (Junior for short).

I was born into a strongly LDS (Mormon) family, and I believed in it until my mid-teens. Around the age of twelve, I began to have doubts and nagging concerns. I tried to put these worries out of my head, and for the most part, I succeeded for a few years. At age sixteen, however, I had done enough research, soul-searching, and questioning to realize that the Mormon way of life was not for me, to put it mildly. I stopped going to church, and shortly thereafter, "came out" as gay. This proved to be a difficult time in my life, but I did my best to get through it. At age 18, I officially removed my name from the church records. It would be wrong to call me an inactive Mormon; I am an ex Mormon. If you stick around and follow my blog, though, you'll quickly find that that is just one small part of me. I pride myself in being a well-rounded person, and I try to do my best to experience new things and see life from different points of view. I hope you'll join me on my journey through this blog!

Here are a couple of links to get you started, in case you wanted to put a face and voice to the blog (they open in a new window).

My Youtube channel

Exiting Mormonism series on my channel