Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Lost Child

A week into my residence in the United Kingdom, and my first day of classes has left me with the unmistakable feeling of being alone and tossed by the waves in a vast open ocean. The hardest thing, I think, is being so utterly devoid of anything familiar to grab hold of. I took all the advice of packing lightly to heart, but am now regretting my obedience, feeling that the hassle of carting around an extra bag the past few days would have been worth the consolation I now feel I would get from having a few things I recognize scattered about my rather barren bedroom. Call it culture shock, or homesickness, or jet lag, or whatever you want, but I'm at a point where those cautions against giving up and going home, which I thought so absurd when being warned against them in my many orientations, are actually becoming pertinent. Now, noone need worry, I don't think, about when to pick me up at the airport--I'm sure this is a highly temporary condition, which I will soon be over and laughing about. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude while it lasts. At the moment, though, my attempts to see the excitement and adventure of this experience are being combatted by more pessimistic considerations. Like:

My room feels like a jail cell, with its bare white walls and its location at the far end of a cramped hallway between a series of admittedly lavender fire doors which must nonetheless remain constantly and oppressively closed.

I am at the opposite end of the possession spectrum from usual--instead of feeling that I have more in my room than I'll ever have time to use, I am lacking in basic necessities like bath towels, cooking utensils, and dental floss, and have absolutely no clue how to transport myself someplace from which I could procure them.

I have vast swathes of free time, a condition incredibly alien to me, and none of the books I've been long wanting to read or people I never get to spend enough time with, or, really, anything much to do at all.

I'm intimidated by the openendedness of the course structure, through which most work is self-guided rather than teacher-directed--which will, I'm sure, eventually be a breath of fresh air, but at the moment deprives me of yet another potential source of stability in an already unstable and unfamiliar circumstance.

Basically, I am lacking, at the moment, in things to rely on. There are a few small and random things--the lavender doors, the kindness of the people I'm living with, a warm and cozy bed... And of course, there is God--and maybe this is an important growing experience, removing all the other things I usually rely on and forcing me to rely solely on Him, and I'm sure in the end I'll be stronger and thankful for it. And indeed, things like prayer, reading my Bible, and the wonderful and welcoming church service I attended yesterday morning have helped to an extent. And I'm sure in the long run I will recover and soon begin to feel grounded and enjoy myself. But at the moment, and I record this only to get it out from echoing uselessly round in my head and in the interest of completeness in the recording of my experience abroad, and not to cause any of my beloved friends and family who might be reading this concern, I'm feeling a bit lonely, lost, and overwhelmed.

That state wasn't helped by my Quantum Mechanics class today, with its Calculus references I struggle to go back three years to find a context for, and the feeling that everyone in my Creative Drama class already knows each other. Nor by the shortness of the days here, with the rain and early darkness leaving me little time to find my bearings in this new location. A moment of reassurance today did come in Creative Drama, when we spent forty minutes playing theatre games--thank goodness, something I recognized!

Anyway, really, I'm sure I'll be fine soon enough, and I'll definitely be glad to get my whole class schedule worked out, as well, hopefully, as my bedroom a bit decorated, my concept of the town and bus schedule solidified, and a routine set. Must be off now, I hope you are all happy and well and grounded wherever you are. Love always.


Blogger Dad said...

Liz--Sorry to hear you are a little down. I have been trying to reach you on the phone number you gave me with little success. I sent you an email. Call me in the office or send me an email with your corrected phone info so I can provide some fatherly love, support, advice and reassurance. Hang in there, it will get better soon. I love you, Dad

7:02 PM  
Blogger your doting mum said...

I will try to call, too - at my appointed time. Just check that phone number. Dad's trying to figure it out as well.


7:16 PM  
Blogger Dad said...

Liz--Please call or email me or your Mom right away. We are both concerned about you and have not heard any response to our emails earlier today. We can't get through on the phone. Please call us collect immediately if you can't get through on phone. Your mom is at home and I am at the office. If anyone else has heard from Liz today please call us as well. Tom 619-238-2821, Jennifer 858-586-0249. Your loving and concerned parents.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your idiot coach says

Hmph. You just described my whole life. Except the lavender doors--gotta get me some lavender doors.


Poetry, of course, solves nothing (which is, of course, the beauty of it), but here's Mark Strand being all existential (as if there were anything else to be): not a frowny face, dang it!

So, here it is:

The Night, The Porch

To stare at nothing is to learn by heart
What all of us will be swept into, and baring oneself
To the wind is feeling the ungraspable somewhere close by.
Trees can sway or be still. Day or night can be what they wish.
What we desire, more than a season or weather, is the comfort
Of being strangers, at least to ourselves. This is the crux
Of the matter. Even now we seem to be waiting for something
Whose appearance would be its vanishing--the sound, say,
Of a few leaves falling, or just one leaf, or less.
There is no end to what we can learn. The book out there
Tells as much, and was never written with us in mind.

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, your idiot coach:

Hmmm. I have re-thought Strand's position vis a vis the whole night, porch, existentialism thing; and I think he is dumb. How about May Swensen:

Earth Your Dancing Place

Beneath heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
high-heeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life

Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture

Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind for your dancing place.

-May Swensen

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once more:

Okay, so poetry is dumb. However... keep an eye on your [real] mailbox later this week.

Thinking of you always (Really. Weird, huh?). -coach

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jade: Sorry to hear that things are not all sunny and adventuresome. I think, though, that you are right about the coming out the other end stronger thing, even if it is somewhat cheesy. Also, coach's poem, the second one (though poetry is useless as we all know) is a neat way to think about things, if I understand it correctly. At first, when the walls are bare, it might seem like creating, like imagining your stage, but I think that if you keep at it, regardless, you'll find that suddenly after a time, unconsciously (brace for cheese) the world IS your stage and every prop and character, familiar, part of your canvas. aaaa mixed metaphor. I love you, keep me posted. -Roly Poly

2:05 AM  
Blogger your doting mum said...

I have no poetry, or cheese. I do have bath towels, cooking utensils, and a bit of dental floss - I believe. Probably not worth sending them, especially since they are somewhat used - which is particularly unpleasant in the case of the dental floss. "Talk" to you soon. (I read your blog more than coach and Uncle Frank combined.)

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Pumpkin Squirrel (nutmeg stage)

So your high tech floss isn't working out for you? I recall having some floss that never seemed to end, with fairy kisses that came as an added bonus. You should look into getting some. If lack of proper dental hygiene is getting you down, realize two things:
1) You're most likely in good company (well, what with England and all)
2) There are two chou-tĂȘtes residing on this planet who have a fluoride-
strengthened dental bond that will not decay due to distance (or lack of
inferior high tech dental floss)
and 1 more, specifically for ECE, my non-fwb and my bff:
3) there is nothing a homemade poncho, a few beauty marks, and seven
layers of fruit flavored lip gloss cannot cure.

Hang in there, my little nuthatch. The black pen and I are rooting for you. ~C

5:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I have always wanted lavender doors.



Uncle Frank

p.s. I am a little late on this one. It sounds like you are better now.

p.p.s. Can you put my school e-mail on your e-mail list? It's febrowne@interact.ccsd.net

5:41 AM  

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