Keep Calm and Go to London

Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I owe you all a bit of an explanation.

I realize I haven’t really talked about my decision to move to London and thus it probably feels a bit abrupt. The truth is it was a decision months in the making. It’s just that originally… it wasn’t mine.

As I’m not an American citizen, I needed to get an H1B work visa to continue living and working in the United States. Unfortunately, every year more people apply that need/want/deserve an H1B than there are spots to go around. A lottery decides which applications get adjudicated. This cat’s out of the bag too: my application didn’t get selected for adjudication.

It was a hard pill to swallow. 

From the cradle, I had been raised in an American educational system, preparing for a life in the United States. Barring my one-year study abroad stint in London, I had lived there for the last eight years – the first three in California and the last four in New York. My dearest friends (my surrogate family, really), my boyfriend, my apartment and my job were all in New York. It was a city that understood the importance of the bustle to the hustle, that nourished it. That understood and nourished me. It was home. And based on the results of a lottery, I had to leave.

There will be no rants here on the vagaries and faults of the American immigration system. It’s a topic worthy of very very lengthy discussion, but this is neither the place nor time. Months ago, when the lottery results were in fact new news, I was so frustrated, confused, and disappointed that was all I wanted to think or talk about. But since then, I’ve had more than sufficient time to realize fixating on the past is ultimately a hopeless endeavor.

And the forward-looking present is a hopeful place.

There are so many things in my life I’m unsure of. Far more than is the opposite. But one thing I have always wanted for myself was to live an international life, to live in multiple places and continue in adulthood the tradition of straddling cultures ingrained in me as an international school student growing up in one of the most diverse cultural crossroads on this globe.

In many ways, my life in New York made me forget that. My life there was so stable, inertia quelled my yearning for the world just outside.

So, it wasn’t what I wanted. But it turns out, it was exactly what I needed.

London is at once entirely uncharted and just familiar enough. It sits, a coiled springboard, aimed in every direction a bus, train, or plane will go. It hums vibrantly, and yet, there is a truer quiet here than I ever found in New York. I landed and finally exhaled, fully and heartily, expelling all the stale anxiety I’d been shelving away until I was entirely hollow.

And then, for the first time in a very long time, I felt the tickling embers of a swelling, wondrous curiosity.

For the first time in a very long time, I am ready to start chasing stunning moments again.