On Moving to the Other Side of the World—Alone.

It’s November. My seventh school year as a teacher is ending and I’m still in my home country, Argentina. I remember counting the days until I could finally leave my city and see the world when I was a teenager. I remember my poster of London: its black cab, double-decker bus, and the Big Ben. I used to tell my friends one day I’d move to England and lead an exciting life surrounded by beauty and chaos. I’d leave my suffocating city and finally feel uncomfortable, challenged, inspired. I was sixteen and already weary of life, but I never despaired because I had a plan and I would stick to it. And in the meantime, I would write about my perfect future life, begging it would come true somehow.
It’s November. I’m looking for flights and my hand is shaking. I’m afraid of making the wrong decision, of drifting too far from my comfort zone, of willingly putting myself in an unbearably stressful situation. For a moment, I imagine myself postponing this decision, living with my parents until I’m 27, working at the same school for another year. I’d feel safe, at ease, protected. I’d be bored to death. I enter my credit card details and buy a plane ticket. Now it’s real—I’m leaving, and there’s no turning back.
It’s March, and I’ve just said goodbye to my mother for the last time and I’m wondering if there’s a way to turn back and stop this madness. What am I doing? Why am I leaving everyone I love? I show my boarding pass and my passport. Why am I willingly making the decision to be alone in an unknown country? I start walking toward the plane. Why did I leave my nice, steady job? Just to experience new things and take up a few courses so I could become a better writer? The flight attendant asks me to fasten my seatbelt. Is becoming a better writer really necessary? Do I really need to do such a dramatic thing to get inspiration? The plane is taking off. What have I done?
It’s been twelve hours since I arrived in London. I’m lonely and vulnerable. I feel like something bad could happen at any time. I edit a picture I took earlier and write a caption saying London seems anachronic so far; it doesn’t belong entirely to the past, the present, or the future. It definitely doesn’t feel like my present, but it is. This is my present, my life. I post the picture on Instagram and get a few comments saying my words are inspiring. Well, this is new. Does this belong to my present too?
It’s been a week since I last saw the school where I worked for seven years. Now I don’t have a job and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t even know who I am, away from everything I know. I look out the window while I go to Central London by bus. I write a short text explaining how I’m trying to be patient with myself. I post it on Instagram and check the statistics an hour later: nine people have saved it. No one saved my posts when I was at home. The truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to write something like this in Argentina, so maybe it’s a good thing I’m here. Maybe figuring out who I am will actually inspire me.
It’s been two weeks since my plane took off, and I’ve finally found a house that I like. I unpack all my belongings and look out the window. The city is changing and the sky has more colors than I can count. And so far everything’s been fine, even when it wasn’t. I remember the lyrics from a song by Spinetta, a songwriter from my country: “Tengo tiempo para saber si lo que sueño concluye en algo.” I have time to find out if my dreams will turn into something. I’ve always had big plans, and now I have an exciting future ahead of me. Maybe the perfect life I wrote about is finally coming true. Granted, I know it won’t necessarily be flawless; I know at some point I might feel frustrated and ask myself why I went ahead with all this. But all the while, I’ll also grow and learn. I’ll learn that craving uneasiness was a privilege and I’ll miss my old quiet life, but I’ll also enjoy the colourful turmoil. And I’ll never be bored again and I’ll always feel challenged. Maybe I’ll become a better writer; maybe I’ll be inspired. The future is still unclear, but I’m certain I made the right call.

By Juana Sagarduy
Photo from Getty Images

1 comment

  1. ♪bajan, el día es vidrio sin sol♪ i searched that spinetta song and, even though i don't really understand the lyrics it has that dreamy, philosophic feeling about it. This resonates so much with me... I want to go away, to start anew in England and just live through the turmoil and chaos of it all. Good luck Juana, and let me tell you, you are a great writer already ;)