As of today I’ve officially been living in England for two years! In some ways it feels like I’ve lived a lifetime since then (is that dramatic or what). But it also feels like just yesterday I was tearfully telling my friends and family goodbye before heading through security and off to a new life.
Only to have to call my parents a couple of hours later and ask them to come back and pick me up because, due to bad weather, I’d have to wait til the next day to fly out.
It turns out moving to a new country can be a stressful experience.
I spent months planning for a wedding, finishing up things at my job, and trying to hang out with people as much as possible. Then came packing up all of my belongings and trying to decide what to get rid of, what to leave at my parents house, and what I could reasonably manage to take to England in 3-4 suitcases. (Shout out to my parents who are still housing many boxes of my belongings.)
After the wedding I could start the visa application process, which was agonizing and tedious. Joe had to go back to England and I had to wait for a decision on my application. For two months. Not exactly how you want your marriage to start.
While I waited for news, I made great use of my time. Like watching all 6 seasons of White Collar, 8 seasons of X-Files, and whatever else looked interesting on Netflix. I also did a lot of crying.
We hadn’t expected it to take so long. It was getting closer to Glastonbury AND a Beyoncé concert, which we’d already bought tickets to. The week before Glastonbury I was in full panic mode. When Friday came and went, I thought my chance of making it was gone and I was devastated.
But Saturday morning I woke up to the email I’d been waiting for, saying they’d finally made a decision.
Of course, they don’t tell you what the decision is. Just that they’ve made one and that the letter with your answer is heading your way.
On Wednesday morning we picked up the packet; I screamed with joy reading they’d granted the visa, then called Joe and he booked a flight for later that day. (How crazy is booking a same day international flight??) After I got the email I had packed everything so it’d be ready to go.
Which brings us back to me crying my eyes out at the airport, only to have to come back home and then tell my parents goodbye all over again.
I landed in England the day after the Brexit vote, getting off the plane and learning that they’d voted to leave the EU. Oy.
Joe and I dropped off my suitcases, he packed our bags for Glasto while I took a 20 minute nap, and we headed straight there. (I don’t think you’ll be shocked to hear that I was very tired and emotional the whole weekend. It wasn’t the experience either of us had imagined but still #blessed.)
The two years since then have been full of tremendous ups and downs.
I’ve recently written about my struggles with depression when I first moved, so I don’t want to rehash the hard times here. Especially because there’s been so many insanely good things that have happened in the past two years. It’s so easy to get busy living life and forget to stop and really be thankful.
So in the interest of speaking my gratitudes, I’m gonna tell you the amazing things I’ve gotten to experience and hope I don’t come across as insufferably braggy.
Life in London
Last year we lived in an incredible flat in Kings Cross, and I loved it so dearly. We lived on the 5th floor (6th if you’re counting the American way – which makes a lot more sense) and had a balcony. The area around us was so nice and I miss it all the time. Plus we could walk to work in 15 minutes, which is the best commute imaginable, aside from the kind where you just go downstairs to your desk.
I had the opportunity to work at a radio plugging company with some amazing people and make some incredible memories. They welcomed me so wonderfully and really did their best to make me feel at home. I’m so grateful for the generosity and kindness that they’ve showed me over the past two years. They’ve also made me laugh hysterically more times than I could count. Honestly, I’ve never known a funnier group of people.
I worked for an independent label, which was certainly a lesson in how terrible the music industry could be, but it was an incredible experience when things were good. The office I worked in was amazing and I got to sign emails with the title “international coordinator” which is probably the coolest title I’ll ever have. The best part was definitely getting to go to SXSW in Austin. I’d always wanted to go and was so grateful for the experience.
Over the past two years I’ve seen Queen Beyoncé perform live; as well as Adele, Rihanna, The 1975, Local Natives, James Vincent McMorrow, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Harris, LANY, Børns, Banks, The Lumineers, and many more. A lot of artists don’t include OKC in their tours, so I’ve really appreciated being able to go to so many gigs. In 2016 we also got to attend several fashion week shows (the ones with the D list celebrities).
And the traveling has been incredible. In the UK I’ve gotten to visit Bath, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton, Portsmouth, Tenby, Belfast, and Brighton. I’ve visited Dublin twice, and drove down the west coast of Ireland. In America we’ve been to NYC, LA, and New Orleans. We visited Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and lots of Europe too; Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Seville, Porto, Lisbon, and Amsterdam. And of course our incredible trip to Morocco, which included a night in the Sahara Desert. I can hardly believe I’ve been able to do all this. Even just getting to live in London and see all the incredible things there has been amazing.
Like I said, I really don’t want this to be braggy.
I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the amazing things I’ve experienced and say how grateful I am for them. I still have so many moments where I just can’t believe this is my life. When I think about growing up in Oklahoma, I remember wishing I could see the world and the things I learned about in history, wishing my favorite bands would actually come to OKC, wishing I had a boyfriend with a British accent… and through a combination of sheer determination, blind optimism, luck, and Joe’s generosity, I’ve actually had most of my dreams come true. (I’m not hot, rich, and famous yet so I still have a few things to work towards.)
So here’s to two years down in England, and many more years to come.
If you’d like to read more about our travels, we’ve got lots to see on jkgo.co.