In case anyone’s wondering how hard it is to blog when you move four times in a week and one of those times is back to your parents’ in a different country, the answer is: really fucking hard, actually. It’s hard to work, too. I’m trying to ease into it but I don’t have a surefire setup; I’m sharing a room with my sister. The last time I worked it was the type of work that doesn’t feel like work — it was shooting a shop; it doesn’t feel like work while I’m shooting, only during admin and editing and the inevitable endless chasing of payment when I’m not paid upfront — and my two-session psychotherapist was like, “You’re working today?”
This was a valid question because “today” was: two weeks after being given notice on my flat, with no prospects or budget to find another; four days after having a fight with my landlady about my last three weeks’ rent and emergency-moving to a friend’s couch in Hertfordshire; one day after deciding to go back to Spain to live with my parents for a while and save up to go back to London; one day after booking a hostel and a plane ticket; one day before moving to another hotel; two days before my flight. And ten minutes after going on forever about needing a shower and not being able to get through the day without one — ten minutes before going into the clinic toilets and washing my hair in the sink with hand soap.
It’s been six days since I landed in Madrid — six days since I sobbed on a plane, then on a train while reading a book about cats, then on the platform after getting off that train, and then into my mom’s shoulder after stepping off the moving walkway. It’s taken me six days in Ciudad Real, six days following six days dragging my baggage, physical and metaphorical, around in London, to muster the strength to open this window and throw some words together.
I thought it would be worse.
It’s not good. It’s taken only six days for me to be moved to shouting and tears. It’s only taken this long because I was too tired to shift close to work for the previous five. I’m sharing my sister’s room while my grandma’s in mine until fall, and even though my mom has been reading my blog for the past eleven months, she still doesn’t seem to grasp why I need quiet time to work.
I thought I’d go to coffee shops and just stay out. I still want to try, but I haven’t found a single place with wifi that also looks like it’d let me relax. My social anxiety keeps kicking in, and I haven’t made it to an ATM yet, which I need to do because no place in this town accepts cards at all, not even with a minimum spend, and I categorically refuse to ask my parents for pocket money.
I’m not feeling great today. It’s been one good day, one bad day — the good days being, much like in London, the ones where I allow myself to take lorazepam. Today is a bad day, but it’s also been the low point of my workload stress. It’s always a trade-off. I’m not worrying about rent, but I can’t further my work until I figure out a work setup that doesn’t rely on other people understanding that I can’t concentrate or get work done unless certain basic needs are met, and actually seeing value in providing me with those basic needs. I’m not worrying about money, but I’m having nightmares and waking up with the same knot in my stomach I did in London most days. I’ve got a roof and food and running water, but my family still cause me pain.
I’ve gone on walks with my sister, went for ice cream last night. Yesterday was pretty decent. I never got to go anywhere in London because I was so broke, so I think: I can survive this town sucking balls, but then I walk around it and all my resentment comes back. Then I’m fine again.
This first week has been better than I expected, considering how I felt last week. I’ve cried a lot less. But I’m scared it will quickly get much worse, and I’m not ready — I don’t have the means — to run off just yet.
I don’t know what’s happening next.
It’s a whole other post altogether; when I left London I planned to come back straight away. I grieved it. I got off the train and I was bawling. Then I woke up on Sunday and it wasn’t so bad. I was glad to see my cat, I was glad to be fed, I was glad to have my mom around. My sister isn’t awful most of the time, as opposed to being awful most of the time when I left. My father appears to have been trying specially hard not to be an asshole, though his approach to the fight I had with my sister today (really, it’s not even the fight; it’s the outrageous fucking cluelessness as to where I’m coming from and what matters to me) doesn’t fill me with hope.
I think about traveling. I think about putting together enough money to last me through four months in London — or elsewhere in England, or around the UK — until my grandma leaves and then taking the full year she’s out to stay here and save up to move again. I think about visiting friends in Europe, if they’ll put up with me.
I think about travel blogging, and how to navigate not knowing if I’m coming back to London or when or for how long. I’d still like to settle there, but not while my business isn’t making a steady monthly income. I think about what to do about my location, my branding, my services. I have so much content to roll out from the past year — there are so many pictures, places, little things I want to share. There are hotel reviews and portrait sessions and things I never got round to when I was constantly seeking work to keep a roof over my head. London is quite charmless when you’re fighting to stay afloat in it. It was only when I was leaving that I felt that thrill of love for the city again. It had been a while. It had been two seasons.
I don’t know how to be Spanish, and I’ve never wanted to. I’m a UK blogger, and I can be a UK-based travel blogger who spends most of her time in Europe, but Spain has never been a part of who I am. It’s just that my home base, my last resort, my family is here. Home is this flat, home is my mom and my cat and my sister, and the immediate surroundings are familiar, but I was landing in Madrid and it just — it was never home for me, this country. I was on the Madrid metro thinking, “Could I live here? (two-second pause) Fuck no,” and wondering if people from around the UK felt that way about London.
My main bank account is a UK one, and I left a lot of my stuff with a friend, and I have to go back eventually. I’m just not sure what that’s going to look like in the short term. And meanwhile, Spain is where I am, and I’m trying to stay positive. I’m trying to do one thing a day, to be efficient without pushing myself into a breakdown, to be productive within the limitations of my mental health instead of continually drag myself forward only to end up where I started, carrying my depression on my back like a corpse in a rubbish bag. That’s what the past year looks like in retrospect. I was in London, but the day-to-day could have been anywhere. My little ray of sunshine was the routine of having a coffee shop where I liked everything and was comfortable and could get out of my own head every day.
That was invaluable and I miss it so much I don’t know how to live without it. I miss it the most. If I had that, I could relax the rest of the time; I could let things roll off my back. I’d still have nightmares, probably; I’d get that knot in my stomach from hearing yelling not directed at me; but it wouldn’t be quite this difficult.
Whatever I do, I need to keep working on my business, and to do that I need to find a setup that works for me, and some days I’m hopeful and some days I feel utterly doomed. I feel pretty fucking doomed tonight. This could have been a better story on a different day. But when do my circumstances ever not have room for improvement?