7quad, 5 years on

Five years ago today, I arrived in Brighton for my term abroad. While I wouldn’t move into my flat until the following day, my journey did technically begin on this date. I’m going to take the time to gush about all of my incredible people because without them, I would not be who I am today.

B – you were the first one I officially met. And there’s not much I can say to you that I haven’t already. I haven’t given up on you yet, okay? JTM.

B – my prison wife. Sometimes I am really glad your ex used me as an emotional dumping ground because I feel like that made us even tighter. I had the best time when you came to visit me last year, and I can’t wait for round 2. Thank you for constantly being willing to be my support when I need it and even when I don’t. *insert penguin noises*

H – despite the fact that soon after we met you were shunned by my flat, eye still love you to the moon and back. I’m so proud of you for taking your next steps and starting from the beginning. I also had the best time when you came to visit me last year. Come back soon.

E – you. You are an incredible human being and I am so proud of you. I love that we don’t have to talk every day for that love to exist. We got real close real quick, and while that closeness from living together has faded, I know that if I ever really needed you, you’d be there.  Also, I’m sorry for my incessant need to tell you how much I love you after I’ve been drinking.

S – mate, you are harder to get ahold of than any celebrity, but that makes the times we do get to catch up even more special. You’ve been by my side for some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with and managed to distract me whilst making it easier to cope. Cannot wait for our waffle tour and I can’t wait until we can sit in Wetherspoon’s, drinking pitchers of cocktails, instead of drinking in Leicester Square.

P – first of all, I love that we can talk about hard things, have differing opinions, and still be as close as we are. I also love how you are always there when I need you and how our five days in Amsterdam have made us even closer. You know what to say to make me feel better and no one takes up my cause better than you do. I said it to you this morning – you are the petrol that keeps my car going and everything seems a little more bearable knowing that you are on my side.

And as for the rest of you – M, S, E, D, H – even though we aren’t in contact as frequently as I am with the others, know that the love still exists. It will always exist. We are bonded through drinking in a minging kitchen, and through late night chips on a lurching bus, and through cups of tea on a snowy morning.

Our friendship can technically be in primary school (where have these five years gone?) and I love each and every one of you so very much.

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A voyage home

I found inspiration for this post in an episode of Dance Moms, of all things.

The girls are assigned to do a group dance involving crossing a border. And as Abby tries to explain the concept to the mothers, one of the mothers (Holly, I’m pretty sure – she’s the least crazy for sure) brings up a point – she is confused because how does one immigrate “home?”

It’s actually quite easy. The concept isn’t that confusing.

Fall in love with a country that is different to the one you were born in. Fall head over heels with the culture, the food, the history and the people. Find your niche there, meeting people who welcome you into their circle with open arms and a warm embrace. Fall in love with a person there who makes you want to unlock yourself to show them that it isn’t impossible to strip off the armour you put around yourself. Find another group of people who slide you into their lives seamlessly. Build a strong support system. Become acclimated. Start using the slang, gain an inflexion in your speaking voice. Start building a life there. Get told you have to leave and can’t come back for a certain amount of time. Struggle to keep that support system alive, but manage. Settle for a second choice even though it is breaking you in half.

Spend your time fighting hard to get home. Spend your time looking for ways to cross that border and immigrate home.

That’s how you do it, Holly. That’s how.

Copping out with a list

This is massively cheating, but I love to talk about myself and I also have a major case of writer’s block. But I need to write something, my fingers are itching, so here it is – Mere summarised.

Favorites:

Food: cheese. Anything involving cheese. I could live off of cheese. My relationship with my friend Nicole revolves around our mutual love for cheese. All we do is eat cheese, or talk about cheese.

Drink: Citrus Mint green tea from Starbucks, a proper cup of Yorkshire, Evian, JuicyWater Raspberries and Apples (which I think they discontinued and my heart is hurting. It tastes like studying abroad. A quick Google has confirmed this and it is now Raspberries & Blackcurrants. Excuse me whilst I mourn this loss), whiskey gingers and Purple Rain.

Book: This is a horrible question. I read books like I devour popcorn. I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and The Bell Jar, and Fight Club. And I love The Water Babies, and Harry Potter, and Jane Eyre. Don’t make me choose. I will write this entire post and it will just be a list of books that I love.

Song: This is a really hard question – I can’t pick just one song. It’s like books. It depends on my mood. It depends on the occasion and what I’ve associated that song with.

Movie: Anything directed by Tarantino.

Band: Again, I can’t pick just one. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Honeyblood and Bright Eyes.

Solo Artist: Lana Del Rey. Hands down.

Place: London. Brighton. I can’t think of any other places in the world that make my heart and soul sing the way that they do. I could be living in a box in London and be the happiest. And Brighton obviously holds very dear memories for me. It’s where I met my people, where I fell in love, and where I started to become who I was meant to be.

Subject: Like to talk about? Or in school. I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it (10 points if you know what show that is from).

Sport: I used to play tennis. I also really like watching figure skating.

Male actor: this is hard. Right now, I’m all about Chris Pratt. Even in the early seasons of Parks and Rec. So cute. So so so cute.

Female actor: Emilia Clarke. She is so down to earth and absolutely adorable. Plus, the way that she and Jason Momoa still geek out over each other via Instagram is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Life:

Schooling: I just got my masters degree. I can’t believe I have one.

BF: So I have more than one best friend. They are all incredible people. The one I will mention here is my friend Phoebe, who was my flatmate when I studied abroad. She and I have remained super close, brought closer by visits to each other and the ability to have really hard conversations without it being awkward. She sent me a card to keep me going the other day, and I would be very lost without her. She is so great.

Political ideology: I am anti-hate. I am pro-human. I am pro-human rights. So yeah, I’m not conservative.

Religion: Right now, I don’t think I’m at a point in my life where religion is important. I was baptised Presbyterian. In the last two years, I’ve gotten very into reiki, which is more spiritual than religious. That’s what I focus on right now. One day, maybe after I have a family or desperately need something to believe in, religion will become a priority. I don’t not believe, I just don’t think about it.

Tattoos: Not at liberty to discuss.

Piercings: I have two piercings on each earlobe. Pretty standard, but I’ve never loved needles and I also had my nose fixed so am under oath (from my mum) to not pierce it.

Languages: I speak French, a little Spanish, and I know some words in High Valyrian. Yes, that’s one of the languages on Game of Thrones. No, I don’t care that now you know I’m a nerd.

Reason behind your blog’s name: It’s about to get worse. So, my friends call me Mere. If you spend enough time with me, you will end up calling me Mere. I speak French. And I also happen to love the film Titanic (one of my friends from undergrad and I are weirdly obsessed with Rose’s maid – I don’t know why). The massive blue diamond in Titanic is called Le Cœur de la Mer – The Heart of the Ocean. And this is the place where I unburden my heart – and yes, I do know that mère in French means mother, but I don’t care.

Why you blog: I blog to make things make sense, to put my words out into the universe and to maybe have someone see what I have to say and be able to relate. The world is a big place, and one comforting voice can make it a little smaller.

Be ready, because there you go

Five years ago today, I woke up on a futon in a dorm room directly below mine, having agreed to spend the night in my friend’s room so that my roommate could have a night alone with her boyfriend at the time. I checked my email, and received the answer I had been waiting for – my application to study abroad was successful and I would be leaving campus the following semester. I would be leaving the country, which was something I had been planning to do since before I started university. It wasn’t until my first year at university that I decided to study in the UK. At my school, students weren’t allowed to study abroad until their junior year, so I had eons to wait. I hadn’t gone into university knowing where I would study – all I knew is that I wanted to study in Europe. It wasn’t until the end of my first year after bingeing all 5 series of Skins that existed at the time that I officially decided that I wanted to study English literature in its birthplace (yes this is very embarrassing but for the record, I still freaking love Skins).

So third year begins, and my school didn’t offer too much in terms of studying for a single semester in London. The programme that the director of the international study programme felt would be my best fit was a medieval literature programme at Oxford. I set about gathering the requirements – two letters of recommendation from my professors, transcript requests, meeting a student who had already studied in the programme. But I wasn’t in love. I had taken a medieval Brit lit course the semester before, and I was not fond of Old English, or Beowulf. Luckily, or unluckily, I didn’t have the marks required for the programme at Oxford, so the director suggested I apply for a programme down in Brighton. I had never been to Brighton or really paid attention to it before, but it was just over an hour by train away from London and promised a city, so I agreed.

Looking back, I can so clearly see the hand of the universe guiding me to where it wanted me to be and to the people it wanted me to find, but I didn’t see this at the time. All I could see was the excitement and anticipation of the new experience and freedom that was to come – and the stress of getting my application in on time.

Five years ago today, my tribe was waiting, but we didn’t know they would be my tribe. And the universe was working on their side as well, although I didn’t see this either.  I thought I had found my tribe but to be perfectly honest, I was struggling. It was my third year at university. I was trying to cope with the fact that I was now an upperclassman and my time at school was coming to a rapid end. My emotions were haywire. My self-esteem was in the toilet. I was so incredibly miserable and feeling so disconnected from everything that I was contemplating giving up something that meant (and still means) the world to me (thank the Lord I didn’t, because that has absolutely contributed to my core group of people in my life and I would be lost without them). I was recently seeing a guy who I thought was the perfect Tom to my Summer – you all may remember him from this post.  He knew from day 1 that there was an extremely high probability of me studying abroad the following semester, but we tumbled head over heels anyway. We’d been an item for less than a month when I got my acceptance. Five years ago tonight, however, I set us on a path of destruction that was always meant to happen but I didn’t know this then. My leaving would not be something we could survive. The person I became was not the person who he was supposed to be with.

In the weeks following this acceptance, I would fill out my student profile and choose my housing. I would select the cheapest housing, not because it was the cheapest but because it was one of the few of the on-campus housing that also offered a communal space to hang out (thus sealing my fate). I would submit my own photo to be used for my student ID to avoid the horrendous ID photo taken in an administrative office after very little sleep. I would receive my student email address, and I would start boxing up my dorm room to move out in December. I would choose to continue with the boy, despite the massive distance we were putting between us and the limitations it would place on me (again, I see you, hand of the universe, but I didn’t see you then). My Christmas gifts under the tree would all be relevant to spending six months in the UK – a bright red raincoat by London Fog, short wedge-heeled Hunter wellies, cosy jumper after cosy jumper.

I’ll probably do some huge post when January rolls around, saying how much I love and appreciate the people that I lived with in Brighton, the friends that I made through them, and my time there. I’ll wax on about how the experience has given me so much, how it changed my life, and how I can’t imagine who I would have been if I hadn’t left the small bubble that was the campus where I did my undergrad. I’ll add a few photos of the sea the first morning that I woke up in Brighton and say something along the lines of how I didn’t know what love was until I studied there. But for now, on the five-year anniversary for when the plan for my life was set in motion, I can only look back on the anticipation of the beginning fondly. I would give anything to go back, grab my own shoulders and tell me to enjoy every minute of it – this is your life. This is what shapes you. This is your identity. Open your eyes and heart, because here you go.

Visitor

You didn’t announce your arrival. Instead, you slipped in silently, a back of the room observer, only to slip out before we could make eye contact. Sometimes, from my place at the front of the room, I think I see you. I think I know you. I think you’re there. But you’re not, and I’m left wondering – did I ever really see you at all?

You didn’t stay. For some reason, you couldn’t. And in hindsight, I guess that’s okay – probably for the best. You left before I knew you were there. You left so quickly I didn’t have time to process your departure. You left faster than you arrived. This missed connection, this hasty goodbye has affected me in ways I didn’t think it would. I’m set up for a lifetime of what if’s, and if only’s, and could have’s. All because of a missed connection I didn’t see coming or going until it was gone.

Sometimes I think it’s for the best. We both deserved better than what was offered at the time, and you deserved someone who could wholly give herself to you. I couldn’t, not then. Maybe not even now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about you and who you could have been to me, and how you would have changed my life. You would have made it harder, sure, but you also would have made it great. This I know for sure. A lot of what I think about you is pure speculation but this is the one thing I know – you would have been the hardest thing about my life, but also the best, and I mourn those missed moments we never got to have. You left a crowded room before I even knew you were there.

Will I be looking for you for the rest of my life? I don’t know. I’m looking for you now. Does that count for anything?

 

 

 

Oh, I need your bedroom eyes

The hours to the sunrise creep, but I don’t care. 

A cloudless March sky in a place where there are usually blankets of clouds cocooning the sun. A red raincoat not needed but instead tucked inside of a hunter green Longchamp bag with beaten corners. And the enchanting humming of a California-born lo-fi band coming through earbuds.

There is no hope for any sleep if you’re not here. 

Cheerful beats and blasé attitude give way to a deeper meaning – it has only been one night together but I don’t think I can live a life without you. And that is not normal. I never think this about anyone, ever. Feet slide into ruby red metallic Dr Martens that pinch, burn and ache. Feet slide out of ruby red metallic Dr Martens by the seaside. Seagulls screech and waves crash in and out. The sun shines. A breeze carries the scent of saltwater and battered fish and stale pubs.

In another scene, in another bed, you’re sleeping. 

Don’t we know that this is only temporary? That I’ll go my way and you’ll go your way and the past year that has led up to this moment was all for just that – a single moment? A strangely perfect moment where it felt like everything clicked into place and everything felt right. Aren’t we supposed to say goodbye after this? That was my plan. That was your plan. But I already can’t stop thinking about carving out a niche in your bed and how I don’t want to leave you behind.

So won’t you come and visit me when I’m dreaming?

Shopping bag swinging, carrying £10 black Oxfords from Primark that have been replaced by those ruby red metallic Dr Martens. Impossibly white buildings against a bright blue sky. And again, the enchanted humming of a California-based lo-fi band coming through earbuds. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Oh, I need your bedroom eyes. 

I know I’ll find my way to you again tonight, and that we will have one more night together before separating. And you will become an anecdote that I will retell over again when people describe how someone’s touch made their skin fizz and how placing my hand in yours felt like dropping my keys on my kitchen counter after a vacation. But this is all temporary, right? We never meant to mean anything to each other. So why can’t I get you off of my brain in ways I never thought I would envision you and why can’t I stop thinking about things that I didn’t know I could want with you?

I fear that I’ll never sleep again. 

And I haven’t. Something awakened inside of us that night. Something that has been building since before our paths crossed. The way I felt about you limping home in my first pair of Dr Martens, swinging my shopping bag and playing a song on repeat – that hasn’t changed. I’m awake to you and the things that you make me feel. Your turn now. Wake up.

Untie, untangle, unwrap

One year ago I crashed through your facade of being happy and settled without me in your life. And I don’t know if it has gotten any easier. I had different expectations a year ago. I didn’t think you’d melt effortlessly back into my life, a snowflake in July, but also didn’t expect to be where we are right now.

It seems so simple for everyone else. It seems so much easier on television. Of course Ross immediately realised that Julie was not the one for him and that he should be with Rachel. Of course Rachel got off the plane for Ross, giving up her dream job in Paris. Of course Marshall returns to Lilly even though she was the one who broke off their engagement in the first place. Of course Ted gives Robin the bright blue French horn again after years, effectively rekindling their romance without any entanglements. But that’s the thing about real life, I suppose. There will always be entanglements.

I’m not sure why you’re still tied up in yours though, enmeshed, bound. You clearly aren’t happy – if you had everything you needed to be happy, your ache wouldn’t be so tangible. I don’t know if you know that every day without you feels like I’ve added another year onto my life. I don’t know if you know that on paper and at surface value nothing has changed but maybe in the bigger picture, it has.

I can’t stop choosing you, you know? I’ve tried. I have tried so many times. My life would be so much easier if I stopped choosing you. You could ask me every important question in the world and if my answer isn’t an immediate yes, it’s a “let me think about this and eventually yes.” I can’t say no to you, which is why when you overwhelm me, I roll over and let it happen. Fighting you is pointless. So why are you fighting our inevitability so hard?

The things I want from life, I don’t want them with anyone else but you. If they do not involve you I do not want them. So wake up and realise you want the same things. I know you do. Because think about it like this – the hardest part? The finding the other half part? The guarantee that they want to be with you? That’s over. That’s done. It’s been found. You’ve asked Father Christmas for that bright red bike and it is sitting under your tree on Christmas morning. All you have to do is unwrap it.