I looked at the photos of my friends in Florida and I realized how much I miss Florida. I have so many bad memories from Florida that will haunt me for the rest of my life, but still, the mother nature in Florida gave me a great sense of tranquility and security. I had my own lake where I could always go to whenever I felt blue. The short walk to the lake was enough to make me calm. The sun would give me energy, and the green would just lighten my heart. The beaches were only about 2 hours drive-with-your-own-car-in-the-highway away. What would be considered an expensive summer vacation for others was a day trip for us to different beaches in the east and west of Florida.
I feel I’m being suffocated in London. The commute to the work mostly takes place underground, then I’m stuck inside the building at work for more than 11 hours and then I’m back to the underground and then to my apartment. The weather is often cold and I’m biologically very sensitive to the cold weather, so going for a walk in a park far away from my home is out of question at this time of year. I just feel like my body is drowning in a swamp.
Speaking of swamp, looking at my friend’s photos reminded me of the “swamp” and the whole “gator” stuff at UF (my university). I suddenly missed all those cheap bars in Gainesville. I missed my friends with whom I would go to the very few good restaurants that one could find there. I missed going to our latest discovery, The Common Grounds, with its hipster-style Karaoke nights on Mondays. (Yes, I sang Creep with Annie there once!) I even missed having pancakes with Annie in Perkins and our long chats there.
And speaking of the things I’ve missed about Florida reminds me of the courtyard in front my home on campus, and the peaceful life I had with Reza, the cooking and sex and laughter, and the companionship.
One of the biggest pities of my life would be the fact that I was struggling with major depression almost the entire time that I lived in Florida. I now look back at those times and realize how much more I would have enjoyed those days, had I not been struck by depression.
I’m now very worried about going back to that depression stage again. In Gainesville at least i had a lake , I will not have even a hole or a well here to dig my head into and shout when I feel the pressure to.
I’m trying hard, so hard, to connect to the people and the new environment. But it seems like it simply is not working. I am disoriented. I feel safe that finally I have a residency status, that I am considered as a person with full rights here, that I am not imprisoned to the borders of this country and I can leave and come back whenever I want to. I am also happy that the records of my unsuccessful marriage would not follow me here in England. But still, something big is missing here.
After thinking about the missing element for weeks, all I can say is that I need a community to belong to, and I’ve lost all my ties to my previous communities. In Florida the women’s studies department and my friends (even the Iranian ones) were my community. In the U.S. I had a big community of friends who were spread all over the States but still considered me part of the circle of friends and we had our own way of keeping a community. I also had my community of women’s rights activists who were mainly in Iran but I was working with them closely.
I’ve tried different ways to make or belong to a community here, but it hasn’t happened so far. That’s why my heart aches and I feel nostalgic when I remember or see good things about my life in the U.S. It all reminds me of the communities I belonged to and the sense of disorientation I have here in London.
It’s scary not to have a community, very scary. I hadn’t experienced the horrible feeling before….