06 January 2010


"We need to talk." I believe there is no one in the world whose heart does not sink or give a jump of fear when they hear this phrase, but I fear that I may be the only person in the world who finds ominousness in the sentence, "A lot of exciting things have happened to me over the past few days." Oh, God, I think, really? Things that will make you leave the country? Things that will make you want to spend time with people other than me? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that these interesting things are things that will make me less interesting. I need to work on that.

So here I am, returned to WhereIlive. The trip back was nearly as awful as the trip there. Skipping the part where I got to the US airport 3. 5 hours early, but then it only took 20 minutes to get through security (which, afterward, I realised I could have foreseen - or I could have foreseen that going out would take much less time than coming in - but better safe than sorry), it was still pretty hellish. There was a four-hour stopover in Toronto, which is only fractionally more interesting than the airport in Parentshome. Why is it that only the English, apparently, know how to make international airport areas with enough shops to keep you busy very nearly forever? They aren't a particularly lavish or spending orientated culture, but they know how to put together a Duty Free area. Whereas the US, land of the gluttonous and spendthrift, offers you a stand in a corridor; Canada had a shop, at least, but there wasn't much in it.

BUEno, after the four-hour stopover there, when we were all on the flight to London and assured we would take off in ten minutes...nothing happened. And then a little more nothing happened. After about an hour of nothing, the captain came on the tannoy and told us that there was some sort of difficulty loading the baggage, which no one had told him, and they were just finishing it up now. This is the only time I've ever heard a plane captain sound annoyed. He then told us that after that we'd need to get a wing de-iced, and then we'd be off: a total of half an hour. So, finally, we took off two hours late. The flight itself was fine, but after we landed there was something wrong with getting the baggage off, so we waited for an hour in the baggage area (I imagined to myself that it was like the car trunk/boot: you're trying to get it to stick, but it won't, so you slam it shut, and then when you come to try to open it, you can't). Then, finally released from airports after a full 18 hours, I discovered that the next coach was a local: three hours, six stops.

But then I was back. And...it didn't feel as great as I thought. That's nostalgia and anticipation for you: the longed-for never quite measures up.

(No, I don't live in a thatched cottage. I just thought it looked like the word "home." Although thatched cottages turn out to be quite expensive to keep up: you have to re-thatch. Someone who owns one told me that. Who knew?)

But it is pretty good even without measuring up, I must confess. And as we were driving through the motorways of England (which don't look that different from the highways of the South, which may be why coming home wasn't quite as good as I'd anticipated), I thought to myself that, given the rigours and tedia of these journeys, ideally, if I could arrange it, I would never go to the States again. Which, of course, is not possible, but I did take it as something of sign, and now that I'm not swimming in jet lag and travel trauma, I still take as significant in some way (although I can't tell you what way).

Everyone I know in the States keeps saying, "Enjoy the rest of your time..." or, "When you come back..." My tactless father said, "Well, you've had two years there; we only had one when you were little." The one exception to this is my HoD, who said, "Where were you the last time you were happy? Not happy temporarily, but with the underlying happiness that should get you through every day?" And when I said, "England," he said, "Then you must stay there."

Everyone here keeps saying, "You're going back? You have to go back?"

All I can do is keep applying for jobs; I knew that even before I left to go back for this visit. But I wish, I truly wish, that there were some magic way this could all work out.

Now, happy news: I washed my hair! It felt different when wet: sort of flatter, or perhaps it would be better to say more contained. Before I washed it it still felt tacky and vaguely waxy, so I expected that when I did get in the shower all this dark yuck would come off and blacken (or at least darken) the water. Not at all. When it first got wet the stall was filled with an overwhelming scent of mushrooms (which is how the air smelled when it first went on), but that was it (which was rather disappointing, to be honest).

After I got out of the shower and had a look at it, I was rather alarmed: there were medium-sized white flakes all through it. It looked as though I'd had a terrible attack of dandruff, but I think it was just the extra gunk being sloughed off. Now it's drying, and although I wouldn't say it's straight, or flat, I would say it's wavy and calm. And soft! Both soft to the touch and soft in the sense of not as rigid and coarse as it normally is. Before it stood: now it falls. I have the hair of a normal person! For the first time that I can remember. I like it!

I felt I had so much more to say...

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