It’s the people not the things…

31 Jan

This is my husband, Steve, standing in front of the Tower Bridge in East London . . .

Living in London is amazing.   Having moved from a small rural town in North Carolina, I have to admit that city life is all I had hoped and not much of what I had feared.  The restaurants, museums, monuments, ethnic markets, public transport and all the all other accoutrements of modern urban planning, design, and development layers over centuries of rich history are amazing.  In addition, I feel safe and relatively healthier and happier than spending hours every day in my car trying to get work or wherever I needed to go – leaving a huge fossil footprint and traveling the same roads, over and over again.  But there is a down-side.

I came here to accompany him: the guy in the picture.  I love him and after all things considered, living apart was not really worth the toll, especially on him.  Plus, an opportunity to live in this amazing city with all its history and art and architecture, not to mention proximity to other amazing places, just could not be passed up.  But I came without a plan, without a mission and without an anchor except him.  Weeks into it, I have not made much progress with finding a “raison d’etre.”  Everyone keeps telling me I will.  I am keeping an open-mind.

A close friend recently sent me a note and asked if there was anything from home I missed that she could send in a care package. Such a sweet offer, but the answer is simple: I miss my friends and family terribly.  I don’t really miss any of the stuff or even the places of home.  It’s the people not the things, I miss.  What fun is all this if I can’t share it?  Being the super-extravert I am, I find little joy in doing things alone.  I thought Facebook would be a great venue to quip back and forth with people about the experience, but its not really turning out that way.  A picture does not allow for that moment of pushing your elbow into someone’s ribs and saying “Did you see that?”  Many of things I want to share — like the way people dress (women who wear leggings, boots, coats and not much more, men who have obviously attended scarf-tying school, and these beautiful children all dressed up in school uniforms riding scooters everywhere) well, it would be strange and inappropriate to be snapping pictures of them.

The guys who hang out on the Common and drink beer all day did ask me to take their picture.  These two posed and even invited me to join them.  I am not at that point, yet — though they do seem to be having a lot of fun.

So much of my day really is a “you had to be there” kind of thing.  Facebook especially can’t convey the absurdity and hilarity of the moment when I realize someone is speaking English but I can’t understand a word of it.  I guess I am too old and self-conscious to just burst out laughing alone. So, I am saving it all up, hoping lots of you get your passports and make a plan.  I am right here waiting to share it all.

10 Responses to “It’s the people not the things…”

  1. J. Eric Smith January 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    In re: I came without a plan, without a mission and without an anchor except him . . .

    Likewise for me in Iowa. It was disconcerting at first, but it gets better with time, honest . . .

    • Allison Mahaley February 3, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      Funny, I thought you were all set. I am going to get a map of London and start shading in the boroughs – thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Kirsten Martin January 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    I’m renewing my passport now. I’ll be there this year sometime, by hook or by crook. In the meantime, you deserve the time to think. 25+ years of hard work, and it’s more than time for your sabbatical. A few weeks time isn’t very long, and certainly isn’t too long, for you to just “be”. Your “raison d’etre” is simply that you are here — a wonderful, observant, funny, caring woman, enjoying her husband and her new life in London. That’s more than enough for me. I’m glad you’re “etre” whether it’s here or there! And please keep sharing your thoughts/postcards/images from London, it’s fascinating!

    • Allison Mahaley February 3, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      So happy to hear I am on your very busy agenda. Thank you for the words of encouragement. I do feel a bit like “a pig in the mud.” I will post more pictures and observations now that I have gotten my new iPhone all set up and working. Looking for you on-line soon, I hope. xxo

  3. David Liebschutz February 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Good stuff. I think that travel takes you out of your comfort zone and that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Especially loved the remark about “English”. As the old joke goes, the US and the UK are two countries separated by a body of water and a common language….

    Keep writing and keep enjoying!

  4. Laura Graves Brown February 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Maybe you should try your hand at writing. I think you would be good at that. 🙂

  5. Douglas Harned February 4, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Allison-
    Can you rendevous with us in Nice March 1? Diane will send details.
    – Doug

  6. Philly February 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Me, I’ve never really been anywhere. But I listen a lot, and many folks say that time spent somewhere else allows one to honestly see and truly understand the place they call home. Perspective, I think they call it. As one of those people I hope you miss, I’ll promise you this. I’m right here. I’m loving this new kind of connection, this vicarious voyage I get to make. Oh, I miss you enough to swim right over, especially during the daily drive to work and the Friday not-as-happy hour. I miss the feeling that you’re right down the road, and I’m only 20 minutes from your warm and happy kitchen. I’ll get you back, though, and you’ll be even better. I’ll be different, too. I will have learned that adventures bring change and growth, and growing is always good. ‘Til then, go ahead and laugh out loud. You did it back home, and the natives loved you for it!

    -Philly

  7. Greg Goth February 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    Yer doin’ great. Wherever you go there you are like the man said. And I’ve found the Scots are even more incomprehensible than the Brits, but very friendly.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cleaning House « Musings - October 20, 2012

    […] just moved all my posts from Indie-Albany to this blog and re-read, “Its the people, not this things.”  I must concur with […]

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