You know that feeling when you’re partying in a bar, and you decide to leave because there is rumoured to be an AMAZING club around the corner, so you go there because you think it’s going to be better, and then it’s all dark and smoky and expensive and loud and you think “WHY? Why did I leave the bar? It’s too late to go back, I forgot to get one of those stamps on my hand!”
That’s how I feel about leaving South Korea.
It has been exactly 8 months since I came back to the UK, during which I have: recovered from jetlag, caught up with friends and family, completed a journalism postgraduate course in London, travelled to Italy for the first time, drunk enough cider and champagne (not together) to ensure that I can never ever recall the taste of Cass, and moved in with my boyfriend for a month in Wetherby, where two weeks of waitressing convinced me that as bad as things are, it is not yet time to work nine-hour shifts for minimum wage. Not yet.
And while much of this has been marvelous, I still miss my So Ko life.
I think the problem lies in the fact that progress in the UK seems impossible. In 8 months, I have had a total of one job interview, and I didn’t get it. Statistics suggest that I’ll be pushing 40 before I can buy my own home. And instead of living with my boyfriend, I have moved back in with my parents. Despite my experience, qualifications and AGE, it is as though I have been forced back into 2007, and all of the amazing people and places and experiences of the last four years feel impossibly far away.
But what is the solution? I don’t want to miss out on things at home. There have been moments of sheer bliss. Last month, I was lucky enough to be bridesmaid at the wedding of one of my best friends. I got to watch her marry the love of her life, and then dance drunkenly around them for hours. Last week I also got to spend a day at Stylist magazine, one of my favourite publications EVER, and feel a warm and fuzzy sense of “Yes. I do know what I want to do with my life. I want to write, and have people read it, and then write some more. Forever.”
So, there are moments of sheer magic. I sure do miss travelling, though. Then again, I can’t keep running off to the other side of the world to have adventures. (Can I?) After four years, my wanderlust should be completely sated and I should be settling down to the serious business of being serious.
As yet, I don’t have a car, or a driver’s license (working on it), a wedding folder or a mortgage advisor. I have started cooing at babies, but I am equally like to coo at cheap flight deals. One of the highlights of this year was a spontaneous adventure to Italy and I know that it is NOT normal to feel so content and fulfilled just because someone is pointing out the emergency exits and giving you an under-packed packet of nuts.
I have a lot of friends who are settled down to marriage and/or children and/or mortgages, and a lot who continue to travel, and a few who are managing to do both. I just can’t decide whose life I envy the most.
It is like that quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes: “A mind that is stretched by new experiences cannot go back to its old dimensions.” For now, I have to try and find the new experiences where I can, without going anywhere. My mind will have to adjust.