Sunday, April 08, 2007

Travelogue: April 2, 2007

Where Are They Now, and Other Final Thoughts

It's really interesting to play a sort of "Where are they now?" game with people who were close friends but who you haven't seen in so long. In the 3 years since I saw everyone last, they graduated from college, so now there's sort of different categories that they fall into. There are the Masters students, most of whom are less interested in the Masters itself than in the extra year it affords them to figure out what they want to do. There are the worker bees, who are living some kind of productive life, and therefore existing in a world far outside my own understanding. And then there are the people who aren't doing much of anything at all...working as movers ("white van man"), or just traveling around and intermittently seeking employment. By all accounts, studying law in Britain is a lot like studying it in America: there are the people who are genuinely excited about it, and then there are the masses who say, "Welp, can't think of what I want to do, so I guess I'll do my law conversion!" So there are some people doing that too.

I definitely came to England with a 3 year-old conception of what the social situation was, and that's certainly be corrected. People have sort of factioned off into their various splinter groups, and I was seeing various people who never actually see each other anymore. At least some things don't change, though...during the time I was there, one couple that got together for the first time in my presence, in a dingy basement club in Covent Garden, got engaged. It's actually impressive to see a few people, 3 years later, still with the same significant others. For the most part, people do seem happy, and that's the best I could ask for, even if much of the rest doesn't match my expectations.

As I was sitting on Nelson's Column reading my book, my parents called to see how I was doing. When they asked how I found the city, I answered without hesitation: being there for just a few days instantly made me wish I had found some way to come back for longer, to go to school there again, to work there, something. It's still more my home than Boston ever will be, even if the particulars of the social scene aren't exactly as they used to be. It's a pity that there's no great way to do litigation and to work abroad, since my chosen legal path apparently leaves me with no realistic way to even get a year's posting there, or anywhere else outside the U.S.

It's sort of funny how going somewhere that seems so home-like for me totally rekindled my nomadic instincts. I want to go somewhere (California), settle in, buy a place of my own, invest in it and make it nice and livable. But I also want to go back to London, or find a new city that resonates with me the way London does, do something other than entrench myself. And these are not two seemingly different desires that can be magically reconciled into a coherent course of action. These are two completely opposing, mutually exclusive instincts. I want to finally move to California for good, and I want to stay the hell away for a while.

So basically, I had a wonderful trip, which awakened my vintage state of dissatisfaction, just in time for me to be smacked over the head with a whole lot of backlogged schoolwork. Sweet. But it was still totally worth it, and I can only hope that it isn't another 3 years before the next time I go back.

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