Jumping off Diving Boards in Slow Motion
Destination: Kingston University, London, UK.
Time: Fall Semester.
I’ve been getting little daily freakouts with increasing intensity.
Especially every time I fill out the date on a special order slip at work, I feel it. The quiet roar of a sensation not dissimilar to jumping off a diving board. This feeling continues in slow motion for me throughout my days, now that my departure date is less than two weeks away. But every so often time accelerates as I realize how close I’m getting to my first real adventure. I still can hardly believe it’s actually going to happen. It still feels so much like a dream in my head.
I’ve been buying the things necessary for studying abroad. A new contact lens exam and box of lenses. The cute little doo-hicky that will keep my laptop from exploding when I plug it in. Melatonin for the jet lag. A more convenient haircut. I’ve also been taking care of more important things, such as applying for an absentee ballot to vote in one of the most important elections in American history. Trying to pare down my wardrobe to two weeks’ worth of clothes. Reassuring my dog, Lucy, that I will Skype her every week. Saying goodbye to as many friends as I can before I board that plane.
And still, doing this intricate dance just a few steps at a time, I feel like I might be forgetting something vitally important. And at the same time, in the back of my mind, I know everything’s going to be okay.
In short, I can’t tell whether my stomach is full of spiders or butterflies.
It’s a delightful kind of a mixed bag telling my friends, family and teachers my date of departure, the primary question I’m being asked these days. There’s one big detail that never fails to make it weird.
“So, when are you leaving?”
“Uhhhh – September 11th.”[face] “OHHHhhhh, great!…”
And then I say, “It’s the cheapest day to fly.”
And the other person doesn’t know whether it’s a joke or not. So I clarify, no, literally, it is not. My plane ticket was about $100 less than it would have been two days earlier or later. I always feel like it’s important to justify picking this particular departure date, since it gives everybody so much ageda and anxiety when I tell them. Either that, or I choose to say “I’m leaving in ___ days!!” Which makes it a lot less awkward, unless they’re really quick at math.
I think it’s unfair for spectres of the past to inhibit living spirits’ journey into the future.
While I have a lot of irrational fears crowding my peripheral vision of the future, I think that once I get there, the place I’ve been wanting to visit since I was a wee know-nothing, everything will fall into perspective. This is a story I want to be able to tell. And I’m sure I will find myself, just a little more, because I learned today from brilliant theatre artist Becca Blackwell that “[No one] is ever complete.” So I don’t need to be scared if all of me isn’t waiting to be discovered in London. I don’t need to be scared of a scary date. I don’t need to grieve over unlived losses. The future is nigh, and it’s probably going to be awesome.
So, some really cool things:
– I will watch the wake of Brexit from the point of view from those least represented in that decision, the youth population.
– I will catch a glimpse of the first Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn’s, first term in office.
– I will visit the locations of incredible archaeological and geological wonders, such as Avesbury, Stonehenge, and Newgrange (because nerd!).
– I will take a weekend to go out and see my namesake city, Geneva Switzerland.
– I will see some of the best professional theatre in the Western world, performed in the Motherland of English-speaking actors, London UK.
– I will make connections with fellow performers and theatre-makers abroad, broadening my post-graduate work opportunities abroad.
– I will learn all kinds of legit dialects, and hopefully some very useful additions to my actors’ toolbox.
– I will learn how language influences culture, and vice-versa.
– I will eat fish and chips.
– And I will produce all kinds of creative work unlike anything else I’ve made, while having fun and making memories.
I can’t wait. I hope this experience changes me forever.
In the meantime, I look at sunsets in the Catskill mountains with additional attention, as if I could manage to say goodbye enough to them. I imagine possibilities in my head how the SUNY New Paltz Fall Theatre shows will come out, and try not to cry about having to miss them. I watch as much Doctor Who as I can, in a vain effort to catch up to Peter Capaldi before I leave. It’s not gonna be easy to go ten days from now.
I wait, mid-dive, in a surge of slow time, as a new and unscryable eternity approaches.
My reflection, now’s face, stares back at me as I inch closer and closer to what I look like underwater.
“What lies ahead? I have no idea. I am on the verge.”
-Mary Baltimore, On The Verge, by Eric Overmeyer.