Hello from the Wolfgang Puck bar in Dulles International Airport! I’m toasting my homeland with my final glass of American beer for awhile with DC Brau Public Ale. After 4 weeks of teaching in California and nearly a week in Virginia with my family, I’m finally flying “home.”
It’s been weird telling people I live in London–I have to immediately explain I’ve just moved. I’ve only lived in our Nether Street apartment for a month. I’m still in limbo. I felt this deeply when my 16 month old niece “helped” me pack my suitcase today. I wasn’t excited for her to learn about suitcases, nor for how much applesauce she got on her entire body while I checked into my flight.
It seems my theme is leaving. I arrived in the U.S. to watch the U.K. Brexit. I was constantly packing up my bags to go sleep in a new house: 12 homes with 13 dogs, 8 cats, 4 chickens, and 3 reptiles welcomed me and then said more good byes. I struggled and stressed with 34 students to learn as much about drawing and painting as possible, only to send them home (and four of them with pretty amazing scholarships). I procrastinated good byes to my favorites, putting off painful hugs that mean there’s so much time before another hug can happen. I’ve been at Dulles for an extra 3 hours (because Thomasons be paranoid about flights), just waiting to leave again.
All these politics in the U.S. and the U.K. about “immigrants” make me uneasy. Mom said it best:
Mom: Why did they vote to leave the EU?
Me: Because they don’t want immigrants in their country.
Mom: Then why did they conquer the world?
It’s weird to be an immigrant (especially as an indigenous person); but I remember learning in second grade some very important vocabulary. An immigrant is someone who has arrived in a country. An emigrant is someone who has left. It’s rooted in location and in perspective. People have asked if I love England, is it so very different? I don’t know. I still feel like I live here; I only feel like I’m leaving.
I’m hoping that when I land at 7:40 AM London time/ 2:40 AM east coast time/ 11:40 PM Pacific time that I will feel arrived. I have no idea what kind of job I’ll get. I know I’ll be painting. I know I am exhausted and that all of my words for the year have been used up–so I will post about my travels in the States in photos soon. For now, I just want to paint in my studio silently and hang out with David and Zeke dog.
Even so, I will miss this humidity in a weird way–it feels full like I am when I see Virginia. I will miss the fog tsunami that rolls into San Francisco. I will miss the golden light in Oakland and the hard-won battles for my students’ growth. I’ll always be a Virginian emigrant, but that means I’m deeply rooted here and nothing can take that away. Hopefully I’ll make roots enough in London to be sad to leave there as well.