Sunday, October 18, 2009
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.
It was 10 years ago today I moved to England. I was 20. It was my first flight by myself.
I had a job interview the next at a hotel in a sleepy drive-though village in Kent called Hextable. It was my second day - I was sleep deprived and nervous. I used my fingers instead of the tongs to put sugar in my tea in the interview, but they hired me anyway. I was to work in the Utopia Health and Leisure Spa at the Rowhill Grange Hotel as a receptionist. By the end of the day, I had secured a room to let down the road from the hotel for £55 a week, which included a cooked meal every night ("tea").
My job didn't start for two weeks, so I took a train north to Scotland. I couldn't stay in Edinburgh through the weekend because there was some sort of international rugby championship going on and the whole city was crawling with Kiwis. I went farther north. I followed the East Coast. I went north of Tain, but not all the way to John O'Groats, a decision I still regret.
Northern Scotland looked so much like Newfoundland, it was the first of many pangs of deep homesickness I felt while I was in the UK.
My visa was good for 24 months. I was there only 9. I also regret not staying there longer. Now, at 30, I'd love to live in Scotland for a while. Wales, England, Northern Ireland - why didn't I just move and try a new location?
Because I was 20. I have logged a whole decade between who I was then and who I am now.
Still, I tried new stuff. I learned new things. I learned to drive a standard - in my own Mini (it was a POS, but it was mine). I discovered hard cider, haggis, Jaffa Cakes, Cornish pasties, and Ribena. I learned to ring bells in a church belfry. I found Jamie Oliver and Ant & Dec. I learned more "English" than I thought was possible (pikeys and zebra crossings and being "on the pull" and biros and skips and so on and so on). All these and so many more amazing memories came out of the mad adventure of Catherine in the UK.
How brazen and bold was I, a 20-year-old PE Islander, hopping on a plane to London? I wonder if I still have that same spirit, 10 years later?
I think I do. I hope so.