Eating Cake in Manchester Part II

Image

It is very weird to return to a place you have once lived. I studied abroad in Manchester for 6 months and in those 6 months I gathered as many routes, friends, experiences, and cake eating times as those of full time students. It was nowhere near perfect, but it was great. I’m not sure if I loved being in Manchester or the idea that I was in Manchester… It was just love all the same.

Now I’m back a little under two years later, to say it’s surreal is an understatement. I’m not sure what I was expecting but perhaps a bit of déjà vu, a bit of I did this already, but honestly my experiences this time don’t mirror the ones I had last time at all. I’m different, I’m around some old friends, some are newer, but regardless they are sharing different sides of themselves with me. In many ways it’s just about learning a place all over again, but I’m not learning about a new place, it’s like I’m learning about home. I’m immediately thrown into favorite places, restaurants I still haven’t been to, and tons of familiar faces.

I guess the process of returning, whether going back to school after being abroad, or returning home after being away, or now coming back to Manchester allows me to better judge sameness and differences. I do still remember the areas of this city and this culture that got me a bit down. Even though I remember them, I suppose they don’t affect me in the same way. When I return to a place after being away for a while it’s striking how the environment reflects pieces of myself. I can see the ways I am the same, and all the ways I have changed. This place holds my memories, this place has become a mirror of my history, every time I return I continue the narrative.

Part of that narrative was eating a lot of cake.It was a large part of my Mancunian diet. And now I am searching for all the slices I missed. I had one today and it was great, a really gingery slice of dark cake with creamy white frosting from Nexxus Cafe. And after I had the worst sugar-filled stomachache and realized I’ll have to put my cake obsession on break for a bit. This time in Manchester isn’t so café/ cake-filled, and that is perfectly alright.

                                                   IMG_7192 IMG_7197

On Good-byes and Other Oddities

I never think leaving will be so hard. Before leaving I always look at the action of leaving not as parting but as having the opportunity to start. I always look at my ability to leave as a blessing, as a necessity really. Then it happens and I stand there crying in an airport.

 The moments preceding my departure I’m nervous, my stomach hurts, and to ease all of these things I try to get everything on my never-ending lists done. Like one crossed off item will slowly untwist a knot. On the drive to the airport, my to-do lists are aside but there is this feeling of apprehension that curves around the car. There is this feeling that somehow this isn’t supposed to be mine.

I stand at the airport hugging my parents and I just feel this overwhelming emotion that stings my eyes. My mom pushes me away, and as her hand parts from my arm, I’m afraid that leaving isn’t the right choice after all. A part of me doesn’t want to let go of belonging there. I didn’t know I was so afraid.

As I walk through security maneuvering bulky boots and jackets I feel better. This is something I have done an odd 19 or so times before, that certainty that spurred 10 months of planning slowly comes back to me.

Two flights + one snow storm later I am in London. I feel nervous and disconnected, not that excitement I was so eager to feel. I have too much stuff in my luggage and my mind, I am weighed down. As this weight grows heavier I wonder if I am doing this all wrong, I wonder why I did this at all. I look for the point, the beacon of light that shows me the point, but the harder I search the heavier my bag feels.

Some odd hours later my beautiful friend comes bouncing in and her presence helps me to remember the point. Well, there is no one point. This is a choice, a choice which that can bring me a lot of joy and really exciting experiences and people. But will also probably bring me a bit of nerves as I make my way across parts of Europe. These few hours of doubt are the smallest fraction against the hundreds, perhaps, thousands of positive thoughts that have driven me. I think that for me working so hard for something and then actually getting it is unnerving. In an odd way it doesn’t feel right that I am actually doing this, even though for the past 10 months in my mind it was the only thing I could do.

I guess it comes down to this odd sense of fear that my good-bye gave me. Saying good-bye took my choices out of theories and put them in reality and that is scary. No matter how awesome or cool or fun, for some reason I found the power of my choice frightening before exciting. Which is strange… but on the other hand I am the type of person who stands waiting for the sky to fall.

I don’t quite understand why my good-bye caused this reaction. Either way I am glad to have sort of figured it out. And regardless, I have yet to regret a thing. 

Acting Out of Character

Acting Out of Character

There was a moment today when my brain short-circuited and I wasn’t myself. I said and did things that felt foreign to me. Then my brain cells went on high alarm as they came rushing to my lips and eyes reminding me who I am.

It is an odd circumstance when you lose yourself to aliens for a moment. But like all things the moment passes, and you forgive yourself.

Also start learning martial arts to keep the aliens away.

How to Get There

Image

It’s Tuesday night at 11:40pm exactly 7, almost 6 days, until I embark on my big adventure. I am laying here in my crooked bed with my lamp on listening to some chill/study/indie/ can you get more generic playlist off 8tracks and my mind is on endless reel of what, when, and hows. On lists labeled to-do and images of how packing will go and then it jumps to unanswered texts and what restaurant I should pick for that going away dinner I’m not sure should be happening at all.

This isn’t entirely new to me. I’ve traveled before, I’ve experienced the week before an extended amount of time in Europe twice before. I think the difference is not only with study abroad I was travelling with a safety net, but I was also travelling with the label of, STUDY ABROAD. About 53% or some crazy percentage like that, of students from my university study abroad. My year in Europe wasn’t different or special, I mean it was because it was mine. But there was this comfort of knowing I was part of a wider, known net. Now it’s something different.

The twenty-something year old who travels around Europe after college isn’t a new narrative but it is still a fairly risky one. When I share what I am doing I feel as if I see a mix of awe and respect, but also there is this glimmer somewhere underneath the whites of the eyes saying, “Have you gone mad?” These are the type of risks that people don’t really allow themselves to factor in. Now more than ever I feel security is sought after because that is the one thing our world is desperately lacking. With so many random shootings, government shut downs, wars, terrorism, global warming, the list goes on and this state of fear that the government, or the media, or we the public have created is a fabrication as much as it is real. There are parts of the world where gun shots are fired every day, but that wasn’t supposed to be our world… That is what I learned in school anyway. And the comparison still doesn’t hold, but to an extent this idea of crime only happening behind our TV screens is changing. I guess it has been for a while.

I digress. The point is I’m leaving. The point is I have decided to make my actions as loud as my words, to try and make my words my world.

But it is still scary. As I lay here waiting for the next day so I can possibly get some of my bullet points on my list crossed off and get some of my texts answered, I feel like I am holding onto these thing to mask this uncertainty that I cannot yet name.

I am still scared. But if I wasn’t scared it probably wouldn’t be worth doing at all.