I awoke this morning in a paralyzing blind panic. For some reason, the fact that I am at a serious crossroads in my life just hit me all at once. Now admittedly part of this panic was clearly initiated by the subconscious, in that I had been dreaming that I was at a bakery and simply could not decide which delectable item to buy. And I also spent a bit of time yesterday chatting with my recently-repatriated sister about the pros and cons of being back in the US. So perhaps it is not such a surprise that I had life decisions on the brain. Plus, as of last weekend I have been in the UK for 4 years, which means my shiny work permit visa with a five year lifetime is fast coming to an end. There is thus paperwork to do. Mounds of paperwork. The very thought of which makes it sound like a really good idea to hightail it back to the US into some job where I have the right to work for life without more paperwork. And where, truth be told, I have a far greater support network than I have now, even after four years of living here. Listening to my sister’s tales of woe after two months in her new job and new city reminded me that after four years I’m really not that much better off in some crucial ways.
Generally speaking, being an immigrant has been harder than I expected. And I could not have predicted how much more uncomfortable it would be under the coalition government that now rules Britannia. I am very much aware of the fact that I am a non-EU citizen. Somehow, all of my other colleagues at work in this status have managed to claim EU citizenship through a relative or spouse, and so I am really alone in my worries about being a foreigner. Although I have been generally in favor of the reforms the new government has been introducing (my American-ness perhaps means that I was shocked to hear that all persons with children get handouts from the government regardless of income just for having children) I really hate the culture of “British jobs for British workers” and feel slightly expendable. This week marks the mammoth spending review in the UK, in which every sector of employment (read: nearly everyone) expects to be hit with cuts that will affect our jobs and our lives. VAT is about to rise, and as such everything we buy is about to become 2.5% more expensive. And I just moved out of work-subsidized housing into the private sector and am literally paying the price.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that I woke up sweating over being a single, employed, non-EU migrant living in the UK. And softly singing The Clash to myself:
Should I stay or should I go now
If I go there will be trouble
If I stay it will be double
The indecision’s killing me