I’m getting Swedish September pangs. And London doesn’t have enough cow shit.
It’s early September, and I’m reclined in an appallingly scruffy outfit in my-soon-to-be-vacated bedroom in Devon. I’ve spent two days thinking and preparing for moving back to University. I got a haircut. My eyebrows feel cold. I’m thinking about University again. Apparently I’m now about to start my second year. This is particularly interesting because my memory of moving there for the first time still seems incredibly vivid and yet at the same time I don’t feel like going back to this other way of life is at all new in any way; I feel completely used to it. The main unknown is the nature of my experience as the workload increases from here on out, and, I suppose, the future past this University stage.
In the past few days I’ve returned from a trip to Sweden – a land of elk, Scandinavian pine, weak alcohol and absolutely no fucking litter, and in many ways, I feel cleansed; despite being a country bumpkin born and bred, going to such a wonderfully underpopulated and pristine-feeling place felt incredibly healing for me. I sat by lakes and watched ospreys, I talked for hours on end to my wonderful girlfriend about life, the universe, and everything inbe-flipping-tween, I met wonderful people and I listened to silence, and consequently, I had a great time. But if transferring back to mucky, boozy, polluted and elk-less England wasn’t enough of a dreary shock to the system (broken e-passport gates and what appeared to be a breeding ground for Ryanair boeings on the concrete washes of Stanstead Airport was hardly a glamorous welcome back), returning from this to the, as the Conchords would put it, ‘inner city pressure’ of the capital seems like something I should be concerned about.
And I am. I suppose. Not through specific worry, but more through my distinct lack of any such feeling – I feel like something, some difficult aspect I haven’t quite at this point considered, is going to hit me head on like an industrial cement mixer careering down Brent Knoll (thank you for that slight chuckle, people from North Somerset). City life is undoubtedly completely different to the each of everything in the countryside – I don’t have to spell that out for you, just go watch Hot Fuzz and Crocodile Dundee, you’ll get it – but having done the change a few times now during the first year of my university experience, I almost feel smugly like I know it all. But can you really ever know it all as a Londoner? You probably think you do until the fateful day that you get caught out pushing it tight for that work meeting by catching the last DLR, or you find yourself in your overdraft after forgetting the price of a square mile pint, again.
The fact is I find myself looking for a feeling that I feel like I should have, but is in fact totally absent – I feel like I should feel apprehensive, wary, excited but cautious of what’s to come – but I don’t. What does this mean? Am I already becoming middle-aged? Is it too late to reverse it? It’s odd. Perhaps it comes from a distinct sense of educational institutions being far from synonymous with any feeling of maturity, leading me to subconsciously tell myself I cannot have any, or perhaps it’s a craving for wanting more from moving back to the city, and to not lose the novelty it so blessed me with during my first year there. Do we often hype these things up too much as humans? Do we look to the future too much? Or foretell too much foretelling? I think some of us do. Okay, I think I do.
It’s a strange complex that, I guess, revolves around simply not living enough in the present and focusing far too much on the yet to come – a mentality that has cursed my stream of thinking for as long as I can remember thinking about what I will later remember. It’s a lesson I’m still struggling to teach myself, and probably the speed of city live is far from conducive to learning it, but it’s certainly something I want to get better at. I want to think less and be more.
So maybe that’s my new academic year’s resolution? Providing I don’t apply it to essay writing, that is, as much as I would love essays to simply instantaneously ‘be’ without any ‘thinking’ on my part. Maybe the distinct calm I felt from my trip to Swedish lands was caused by me forgetting about the future and just being in the now? Perhaps my aim should therefore be to retain the calm that I feel from that holiday, but also allow myself to not expect any further changes, and just experience it all? Living through experience is something I could do with doing a lot more. It seems like it all would be more fun that way.
Oh well. Wanky blog-poster over and out. Until next time (providing I can afford WiFi).
-Toby Moran Mylett