Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have thought twice about spending a Sunday laying in bed binging on The Good Wife or Parks & Recreation.
I wouldn’t ever get to work on Monday and feel like I’d wasted my weekend; if I went to the gym one day and then sat on my deck reading in the sunshine the rest of the time I would feel at peace. All of that has changed since moving halfway around the world, and I can pinpoint it on one thing: the never-ending passage of time.
You know how when a big deadline is coming up and you think it’s ages away, but before you know it, time has sped away from you and you’re scrambling to make up for it? This is what it feels like all the time when you’re living on a temporary visa. Two years is a generous temporary visa to be sure, but for the people on it, it seems like a blink and you’ll miss it type situation.
London makes this feeling all the more acute and I think it’s because things move fast here. I’m very time poor in this city, not just because of my temp status, but because of my commute (which I’ve talked about before). I also struggle with not having a car anymore, not being able to just grab my keys and go anywhere I need to.
In London, there’s always something to do, which is fantastic!
But only for those few days after payday before reality hits and you remember you can’t actually afford to do those things. You spend the rest of the month in a perpetual state of FOMO, torturing yourself by looking at “What’s On” on pages and angrily tapping through other Londoner’s instagram stories.
(This may be more specific to me, based on how many London bloggers I follow who are far better at documenting their lives than I am?)
And then, EasyJet has a bloody sale on and you’re suddenly super interested in visiting some random French town you’ve never heard of! You hop on Pinterest and find a good “How to Visit Random French Town on a Budget” blog and you’re thinking “hey, I used to be a student. I’ve lived on noodles and toast before! Who says I can’t do it again?”
I complain a lot about being broke, and people have attacked me for it, asking why I don’t forgo a holiday, or skip a festival. There’s two answers to that – first is that of course I skip holidays, festivals and events. I don’t leave the house for weeks at a time, because I know I won’t be able to afford to buy food that week if I do. It’s just when I do leave the house, I want to make sure it’s worth my while, because I’m here so temporarily. And the second answer to that is that I can’t forgo that holiday or skip that festival because I’m here so temporarily.
This weekend just passed I was recovering from my second bout of Salmonella poisoning in less than 6 months, so I quite rightly stayed home all weekend. But then when my alarm went off at 6.55am on Monday morning I still thought “are we wasting our visa hiding in this bedroom?”
So no, I don’t know how to relax anymore.
I wouldn’t even know where to start – our bathtub isn’t big enough for me to be able to have a proper bath and I sure as shit can’t afford a massage.
And do you know what all of this makes me dwell on? People who are on temporary visas because they have to be. Me, I’m here by choice. I chose to leave my easy life filled with certainties and endless tomorrows in pursuit of adventure. I’m telling you that being temporary really fucks with your head. I can’t make any plans for next year at the moment (which is only 3 months away) because I have no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing. And I can go home; I have a home to go to.
It probably seems flippant and a bit like I’m trivialising what is a very real issue but I think about the people who can’t. People like me, who are temporary, but don’t have a home to go to, because they’ve come here to escape war, or persecution. And then I think, well shit, I’ve still got Australia right? There are far worse places to come from.
As my eloquent countrymen would say… “suck it up, Princess!”
Help me relax! Got any relaxation tips for time poor people with known anxiety? HMU in the comments.
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This entire post may or may not have been a really roundabout way of letting my loved ones back in Australia know I can’t afford to buy them Christmas presents this year.
I’m sorry, that might piss you off because I’ve gone to Berlin and Oslo and Bath and Valencia or wherever. But I’m going to go ahead and say I have to prioritise my time and my money because I’ve less than a year left and then I might have nothing. I gave up everything to come here, and if I have to go back home, I’m going home to nothing (literally – I can show you my bank balances if you don’t believe me).
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