I took wellbutrin to get through writing my Master's thesis. I went from scattered and emotional to jittery and ultra focused. I wanted to get out of the states, get back to my man, get back to a country that valued...well, humans. So I dove in while my thesis advisor was facing his own struggle with politics at the university. His notes were always charming. Like a monkey throwing poop at me. Charming. I taught classes at the university during the day and sat in front of a computer at night. Then I defended it, and they passed me with the caveat that I continue the research.
Margaret Fuller challenged every notion of woman. She called it as she saw it, faced off with some of the greatest thinkers of her time, or any time. She travelled, single, with the permission of her family, as an adult, and she left everything to work for a newspaper in New York. She was a literary critic, transcendental disciple, and foreign correspondent. I cried when I wrote the last few paragraphs of the paper, when I wrote about her death. She was full, even then, at too young an age.
My dad drove me to the airport in Atlanta on the day before Thanksgiving. I had two large suitcases and a Klonopin. I bought a huge Captain Morgan's Spice Rum at the duty free...to remind me of home....
Then I cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for my new housemates in Turnpike Lane (North London) and they all remarked how clever it is to have a holiday entirely devoted to eating. The English love food. they eat food at the table. I never ate a meal with people that wasn't at the table in England. At my boyfriend's parents' home, we ate most meals in the kitchen and special meals in the dining room. We had wine with every dinner, and the English use both hands to eat. I love it. I used to practice eating with both hands when no one was home when I first noticed the distinction. It might look really simple, but it is not.
I spent a majority of my social time in England sitting around tables and discussing the legitimacy of homeopathy (home-ee-op-athy), world news, or differences between American English and English English. Once, the core group of friends (my boyfriends' friends), sat around a table and discussed the fact that none of us had done crack and whether or not we should try it. The consensus was no.
There were always pints. The boys drank cider, and when I made fun of them for drinking what we would call a "bitch beer" in the U.S., they retorted that cider was a, "man's drink," due mostly to the high alcohol content of most English Ciders. I always drank Bitter. It was creamy and foamy. I liked that.
You can't buy Fritos in England. There is no equivalent. In fact, most U.S. junk food can be found only at a novelty store in China Town that sells primarily American sweets. Chips and salsa aren't free, and authentic Mexican food is really and truly non-existent. And that's important, access to Mexican food, to comfort food.
I worked as a receptionist for a bank then as a PA for the CFO of a charity organization who was also a "Dame," like Judy Dench. I scheduled luncheons for her with duchesses and the like, and when I asked where she would like to luncheon, she simply replied, as if I should have known, "the palace." I contracted the Norovirus and wept like a baby while I projectile vomited along with the rest of the nation that had recently been instructed by the BBC to stay away from Hospital if you begin to experience symptoms of the virus. Then I finished out my tenure working with baby nurses for the NHS, which, although it has its drawbacks, is quite the organization.
I had a doctor whose office was about a two minute walk from my house. To make an appointment, I simply registered at the office once and never filled out paperwork again. Then, when I needed to see the doctor, I simply called the office and chose, from the myriad of options, when I wanted to come in for an appointment. When I came in from my appointment, I signed in, sat down, and waited for them to call my name in ten minutes. Then, I sat in the Doctor's office, face to face with him, and discussed my issues. He gave me as much information as he could, sent a prescription to the pharmacy next door, and I was done. Then, I left the office and picked up my prescription for 7 pounds ($14). That's all the money I spent. It was HORRIBLE. If I had questions, there were hours during the day that I could call and speak with a nurse, and getting an appointment was never, ever an issue.
What I didn't learn from actually receiving care from the NHS, I learned by working in an NHS facility.
I don't have a ton of pictures from England, so here's a picture of me eating a bus in Rome:
Tune in tomorrow for the next installment. If you want to delve further into my life after moving to England, you can go to the very beginning of my blog and start with this one: Ghost Town.