Simple things, like eating a meal out somewhere, have become something of anxiety producing process. Â Each time I consider where to eat I feel my heart beating a bit faster. Â How much does a sandwich cost here? Â Do I order at the counter? Am I supposed to leave a tip? Â Do I really want to sit here alone and eat a sandwich? I have to pee so I should eat here because that would give me a good excuse to use the bathroom, but then I’d have to carry my purse and backpack into the tiny bathroom. Â Then the staff will think I don’t know that the bathroom is for customers only, but I can’t order and then go to the bathroom… I also can’t leave my things at the table while I go. Â If I have to ask a question I may not understand the answer because of their accent and the time it takes for me to get it sorted out may piss off everyone in line behind me. Â Am I really standing here having this conversation in my head with myself? Â Where is St. Mungo’s?
On the upswing, I have never seen crisps in this many flavors. Â Lay’s has a contest going to create a new flavor; in the UK Lay’s=Walker’s. Doritos though, go by the same name. Â But they don’t come in Chili Heatwave back in the states. Sunbites, known as Sun Chips in the states (and owned by Lay’s/Walker’s) are also here in full force–and full flavor. Â Wow. Â Who knew I was so easily fascinated by junk food?!
Though it sounds like a petty issue, discovering the variety of new-to-me crisp flavors is an analogy for the life I find myself living in London. Â There are more choices for everything–choices I had never considered. Â The answer is obvious, but still so novel to my programmed themes and schemas. Â There are more people here. Â And the people here are from all over the world. Â Cultures and ethnicities are colliding all around me. Â It’s been happening for longer than I have been alive and longer than anyone I know has been alive and on and on. Â As silly as it sounds, crisps in all of the flavors just remind me that I have been so sheltered. Â No matter how intelligent, open-minded, cultured, or whatever else I considered myself to be, I was none of those things. Â I may be yet.
In talking to native Londoners, I am also learning that they are just like that native Nashvilian in me. Â The ones who have never traveled or lived close to people vastly different from them are the same person I was before I left the states–a bit ignorant about how alike we all are. Â None of these revelations make me miss home any less. Â It just becomes clearer each day that the only things in life that really matter aren’t things at all. Â New and better junk foods exist outside the ones I know and take guilty pleasure in. Â People though, are mostly the same. Â I hope I am never in the position to stop being surprised at what the world has to offer, but I also hope to remember how valuable this new knowledge is. Â It’s like I previously understood the theory and now I am viewing it from a more interior perspective.
There’s something to be learned by living away from home. Â There is something special about being in an uncomfortable situation and finding that you have the strength to order that sandwich. Â Above all, there is great satisfaction in the growing pain once it has passed.
We love you.