Thursday, June 28, 2012

Next Chapter, Please

As we begin to bid Dundee adieu, I'm trying to frame how I'll come to remember our time here.  Throughout these two years I've been rather depressed and disappointed by the whole experience and, while beneficial for Mike, these years have been rather detrimental for me.  Although I'm thrilled to be ending this chapter, I carry a fear that these years will come back to haunt me.  For example, I will not be surprised when the doctor tells me that the reason for my fatal illness is due to the short time I lived in Dundee.

When we first arrived in Dundee, we were very happy with our new surroundings.  It would take a couple of months for the excitement to wear off and the reality of our situation to emerge.  It became evident by mid-October 2010 that Dundee was a small, depressed town with a severe binge-drinking problem and a rather high level of drink crime (e.g. vandalism, mostly in the form of broken shop windows).  Employment options were limited and the realisation that we were going to be unable to continue to meet our financial obligations back in the States proved very stressful.  These first months would prove to be our hardest.

Things began to get brighter once we got down to London, in May 2011.  I regained a bit of my confidence, Mike was able to find employment in his field, and we began enjoying the UK a bit more.  Upon returning to Dundee, in September 2011, we had a wholly different perspective and were ready to give it another chance.  I know now that any attempts to paint Dundee in a positive light were just our attempts to mentally prepare for another two years here.  However, as soon as Mike made the decision to graduate early, all attempts to shine this turd stopped and the reality that this bad situation would be ending shortly has made these few remaining months almost as difficult as the first few.

I know that I will remember our time in Dundee differently than how I've represented it here.  If I don't purge these years from my mind completely, I may actually remember parts of it rather fondly.  In the short term I will only remember the bad but my long term memory will probably be quite kind, if for no other reason than the amount of travel I've been able to achieve while stationed in this purgatory.

Although we've been here since August 2010, we've actually only lived in Dundee for 15 of these 22 months.  Moving here has provided us with the opportunity to move to Paris, Mallorca, and Rome for a month each and to London for four.  Additionally, we've been to Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium, all within these 22 months, not to mention extensive travels within Britain itself.  If this time has benefited me at all it is due to these travel experiences.

As we approach our final days in Dundee, and try to contain our glee whilst surrounded by people who are choosing to remain here, we are willing to acknowledge that this experience, when taken in context, has probably been a net positive one.  Besides the possibility of these years being the cause of whatever kills me, this time can be viewed positively in the immediate aftermath because it is now over and we can move forward. In the larger context, Mike now has a BA Fine Arts from an esteemed institution and the confidence to practice as an artist.

Though the remainder of our thirties will be spent paying off this debt (and that incurred during our twenties) and establishing new careers, at least we've accomplished what we set out to do (and enjoyed at least 30% of the experience).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back in the USA

Mike & I returned to the States earlier this month.  Good friends were getting married outside Baltimore and it was can't miss; a perfect reason to return to our home country and a much better reason than because we're being kicked out of our current one (which will be the reason we return in January).

The cheapest tickets (by at least half) from Europe to the US were out of Brussels into New York City so we turned a weekend trip into an 18 day holiday, adding Brussels, New York City and Amsterdam to what would've been just a Baltimore weekend.

Besides my trip to New York in 2008, we haven't been to NYC since our first visit back in 1999, on our honeymoon road trip from Salt Lake to Belfast, ME.  Perhaps it was the sight of a water fountain (free water) near free public restrooms but, upon arriving into LaGuardia, we knew right away it was nice to be back, both in NYC as well as in the USA.

In our few days in NYC before travelling south to Baltimore, we explored the Upper West Side and Brooklyn, both real contenders for our new address, as well as walking the length of the west side of Manhattan and breadth of Downtown.  We wandered through Washington Square Park, Central Park, Riverside Park, The Highline, Battery Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park and spent an hour on the (free) Staten Island Ferry.  We toured the Federal Reserve and 9/11 Memorial and saw the Picasso exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison.

If we weren't confident that our relocation to NYC in January was the right move before this trip we definitely are now.  We are really looking forward to calling NYC home.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

False Start

Right after posting about our new flat, and exhaling after a rather stressful flat search, we were notified that the landlord had given our flat to someone who could occupy sooner than 2 July.  Apparently, paying a deposit and receiving confirmation via phone doesn’t translate into confirmed accommodations.

Although our deposit was refunded rather quickly, we still felt pretty defeated after receiving the news.  As is our way, we allowed ourselves a day to wallow but awoke the next with renewed determination.  Happily, after only a short period of doubt, we have found another, better flat.

Rather than the smallest flat we’ve ever lived in, this one will be closer in size to the one we have here in Dundee (less a bedroom).  Located in Bermondsey (south London), we’ll be on the ground floor, have a private garden and be closer to the neighbourhood we had originally coveted (Southwark).  Overall, we’re pleased with how things have worked out and are confident we’ve emerged from this debacle as victors.
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