Funk-y

I have more to post from the China adventure, but I’ve been a bit low since my return and I’m just starting to feel calm enough to admit it. I can’t quite place my finger on what went wrong to throw me headlong into such a low mood, but I can guess at a few things. There’s always a letdown after something, like a huge trip to a foreign land, that you’ve been anticipating for a long time. I had the same reaction after coming back from Australia (the first time), and I was similarly quiet on the blog and relatively quiet overall in terms of distributing the photographs and stories from the trip. So that’s one thing.

But I suspect more than just post-trip anticipation let-down in this case. China was an awesome 12 days spent with my sister. My sister who is repatriating from China back to America this summer. My sister who is moving to Baltimore, part of the greater Washington DC region that I consider a second home (second to Minneapolis) in America. My sister who will be looking for an apartment and buying a car and lots of new fun furniture at Ikea and the like. And I think deep down I’m just really jealous. That sounds like fun. Fresh starts, new beginnings, new jobs, new homes. And all of it in America. Hmmm.

I’ve always joked that this feeling is part of the reason that people have children. They get past the whole high school-college-wedding stage and realize that life in your thirties is actually pretty dull compared with what you’ve experienced so far, you work at a job with nothing to look forward to the way you had anticipated high school or college graduation or the pomp and circumstance of a wedding. Babies come with the chance for more parties (in the form of baby showers and then child-centered birthdays and holidays for years). And provide a necessary distraction when your life otherwise becomes just about a job.

I’m also now about the last one standing of my friends not to have kids or kids on the way. We’re all 35ish now and I’m sure you know what that means: dire warnings about what will happen if we do not procreate quickly. I plan to stay standing in this little club of one with no kids of my own. But it does mean I need to come up with something else to anticipate now that the China trip is over. My next big trip plan is Egypt in early 2011, so that’s something to start thinking about. I’ll go places in the meantime, of course, to the continent for work and to America for work and for the beach.

Of course, in phrasing my thoughts in this manner, I’m neglecting to mention the fact that it’s probably not just the anticipation of big change and new things that’s making me melancholy when I consider my sister’s big move this summer. Being an immigrant during a British election focused on keeping ‘British jobs for British workers‘ has been interesting. Looking ahead to my own 35th birthday has made me think a bit about planning for the future. It’s easy to not worry too much about saving for retirement when you’re 25 or 30, but as you start to head towards 40, it becomes harder to ignore this particular elephant in the room. And at some point I’m going to realistically have to decide that I want to be here in England indefinitely, or that I need to get back to the US and start paying into Social Security (probably less importantly) and 401(k) accounts (probably more importantly). Thinking about my sister’s repatriation has me in a big pile of melancholy as I try to think about the future and where I should put down roots. Because there’s no question, in my current circumstances–in a work-owned flat in England with no closets and no shower, still formally on ‘probation’ for my job and with the expiration of my work visa looming, along with the need to apply for ‘permanent’ residency–I’m feeling pretty discombobulated and unpermanent. And unsettled. So I’m in a funk.

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5 responses to “Funk-y

  1. Don’t let certain nationalistic parties get you down – the UK has always welcomed people from overseas, to settle and work and we value your contribution. We are not an insular society in the main…..

    When we lived in the USA we bought our own home – which involved red tape and financial uncertainty – but it does help you feel like you are “home”. A flat with no closets and shower? Sounds like something from 1975! Do you have to stay in work-owned accommodation? There are so many great options out there – to rent if you don’t wish to buy.

    It’s a hard decision – to stay or to go – we came home in the end but always felt we left a little of ourselves behind in our adopted country. I wish you luck with whatever decision you reach!

  2. Oh poor you. Don’t know what to say. I think you’ll find your way through, but of course that’s no comfort just now.

  3. I can identify with that discombobulated feeling 😦
    FWIW, I was 35 1/2 when I got married and 38 when I had our first baby.
    Do put money aside for retirement, no matter which side of the Atlantic you think you’ll end up on. The UK and the US have a reciprocal agreement regarding social security for retirement as far as I know, so years that you pay into one system are supposed to be honored in the other.

  4. If it helps at all, I’ve been in such a major funk lately that I can’t even write about it on my blog. I’m sure it’s the 6-months-in-a-new-place blues, but coming up on 32 and confronting about as many births of friends’ kids in the last month as I have in my entire life — I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately. My only thought is — girls’ night out sometime soon? Have train pass — will travel!

  5. “life in your thirties is actually pretty dull ”
    Hahahaha – life in your thirties is whatever you make it.
    I am happier in my 30’s than I have ever been in my life, I have a disposable income, am secure enough in myself not to car if my bum’s too big or that each day I have a new grey hair!
    I get to travel the world, and teach the next generation.
    Tomorrow I fly back to the UK to watch the last of my school friends get married.
    That’s it – I’m officially on the shelf, the last one left as a single….and I couldn’t be happier 🙂

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