In a few days time, I’m turning 30 years old… What do I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing.
Well, not nothing exactly but barely anything material anyway. It’s difficult knowing that all that is important to you in the world is sitting in another country and all the possessions you keep can fit into 3 small suitcases. So what’s different about this birthday compared to the others? Firstly, I’m not with my husband and my children which is a totally foreign concept to me. My birthday is always a big celebration in our home, it begins with a birthday week and my husband has been known to buy me birthday presents everyday for that week, it generally ends somewhere between a braai and the pub with many shooters in between. Sadly, on my biggest birthday yet, the oldest I’ve ever been, I’m ‘alone’ and I hate it.
I’ve spent the last few days of my birthday week in tears, not because I’m sad about getting old but because I’ve learnt that what makes a birthday is those closest to you and not what you do or what gifts you receive. I, the Shevster, am losing all street cred for the many tears I’ve cried for my family that I’m longing for – so much so, I was going to buy myself a birthday present, a one way ticket home back to them – Home is where the heart is and England just won’t be home until they arrive.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the UK – it’s been the most amazing few days with a multitude of changes. My body is adjusting to the new climate, my stomach is adjusting to all the new food, my feet are adjusting to all the walking I’ve had to do and my mind is adjusting to the train commute and new job I’ve started. It’s quite a challenge being independent living with your family to being a guest in someone else’s home without said family, it’s taking some adjusting there as well – Thank goodness my housemates have been more than accommodating, they’ve been awesome. In just over a week I’ve given up everything I owned, left my family, moved to a new country, become a lodger and started a new job to which I have to commute on various trains – I’d say that I deserve some leeway on those tears, it’s mighty big steps in the right direction, no one said they’d be easy.
Before arriving in the UK I knew that I’d be joining the train commuters on the daily journey to work and back, it’s a given considering I don’t drive – Even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to afford a car, petrol and insurance is just as expensive as a rail commute – Yes, the trains run late or don’t run at all but there is always another one – At least I don’t have to sit in traffic. My commute is fairly simple after a few days of doing it, Nicolle drops us (me) at the station in Crowthorne, I then take a train into Wokingham and from Wokingham to Virginia Waters and finally ending in Chertsey where I have a 5 minute walk to the office. The whole journey in the morning probably takes approximately an hour and 10-20 minutes depending on the times. The return home is a little longer as I have a 30 minute walk from Crowthorne station to the house, my shins are already screaming this week! On my first day at the office, Scruff did the trip with me to make sure I didn’t get lost and since then I’ve been on my own – the return home was extremely daunting but I managed and got home in one piece. Since then, it’s gotten easier and easier and for the first time yesterday I got home without my Google Maps for train times and directions on my walk – soon I’ll be ready to venture out into the bigger stations, spread my commuting wings a bit.
The funny thing about the train is how you start noticing the same people on the same trains – So many people do these journeys every single day, reliant on these trains to arrive on time to make the connection onto the next one. When one train is late, your journey can go from 30 minutes to an hour and if you miss that connection, a wait at the station is a given. Having experienced these delays and waits myself, you can’t help but sit and watch the people getting into and off of the trains – It’s an awful time, all this commuting leaves you alone in your own mind with far too much time to think and miss family, so you have to think of something else to do and occupy your mind before driving yourself mad. Anyway, so I watch the commuters, judgmental I know.
It’s become apparent from my train-spotting (almost) that it is perfectly acceptable to wear leggings as pants – there is no longer a need to wear a top long enough to cover your ass and camel toe is the new ‘style’. It doesn’t matter if said leggings are see through either because it’s fashionable right? It’s the middle of autumn, starting to get a bit cooler in the evening and at 6pm sitting at the station, the girls are running around in ankle boots and mini skirts with coats longer than their skirt, no stockings and goose bumps galore. I’m quickly learning that the UK has its own fashion sense and it’s rather odd to keep up with. It’s also easy to watch people (or hear them) on the train as well… For example, my hearing OCD generally kicks in quite quickly after boarding the train, the sounds of people snorting and sniffing, slurping their coffee and biting their nails – it all drives me absolutely moggy. While the train has ‘Quiet zone’ signs asking you to keep your phone on silent or your headphone volume at a minimum, I always manage to sit across from the commuter who can’t read and instead has their music blaring that the whole train can hear it. It’s safe to say that shortly after getting on my train, I’m extremely happy to get off. What was exciting the first few days is now just a pain in the butt… It’s official, I’m a commuter.
On a more pleasant note, I got a bank account this week! Yay, I’m 30 and I have a bank account! (insert sarcastic snort here). What a mission… It is extremely difficult to open an account here without a utility bill, which I don’t have because I live with people and won’t have until I’ve got a bank account out of which to pay rent… A few banks later, I found one willing to help (Yay Halifax) and now I can starting earning my salary… Next step is my National Insurance number for which I have my appointment on the 6th of November and then a few weeks wait until I can rent my own little place, after payday in December, ready for Jp and the girls to join me in the new year (Which feels eons away!)
So this weekend we are headed off to Camden to celebrate the birthdays, I’m looking forward to it but truly long for next year, my 31st, when I have those that matter around me.
Now if this guy opposite me could stop snorting, that would be great…