"New heaven, new earth...past the size of dreaming." - Antony & Cleopatra
"Is it all that you imagined?" Thus began the letter I received recently from a Reader keen to embark on her own journey of a new life in brave new world. It has taken me weeks to respond. Busyness and an overly lengthy "To Do" list aside, I have struggled to place my feelings in the right frame, the right words.
I started my response to her many times, but then ditched the effort each time, finally today, I feel I have found the word or words, and hope she will excuse this public reply to her queries...
That is how all of this began, and love is what keeps me and this story going. Next month will be four years since I left my high-flying life in Manhattan for the bucolic British setting that is now my home - a story book English village that charms and delights me daily; where I feel safe, secure and valued. I risked everything, all I had and all that I was.
Was it worth it? Without a doubt.
Is this life all that you imagined?
I don't have words to describe fully the frustration and isolation I have felt as I have struggled to rebuild my career here in Britain. Incredible high and gut-wrenching lows.
I have had to fight for every little corner I have achieved. I have had to find reserves of shameless self promotion that I never knew I had. I've had to be fearless, brave and resilient. Creative and persistent. And, thick-skinned. Or - at least attempt to be thick-skinned.
A journey such as this is not for the faint-hearted.
Depression, disappointment, anxiety and anger have all been present in full measure alongside joy, passion, laughter and love.
Love is the only thing that has got me through each and every rejection - and there have been too many to count. Every time a door has slammed firmly shut, I've retreated into the warm and open arms of my DEB.
For this, I am thankful. For this, I live and find the strength to keep going.
There are so many things here that give me joy: family (the best in-laws in the world!), friends, community, etc. & etc.
But, I would be lying to say that it has been easy, and not without struggle. It requires living on ones wits, straining the nerves, and surviving. The lows can be incredibly low, and hope a very distant thing. I have come to believe, quite honestly, that I have more chance of winning the National Lottery than I do of ever finding sustained and fulfilling employment in my field in this country. Seriously.
Would you do it all again? Absolutely. But, I would do it differently.
"What an amazing life you have! How can I be you?" - The young schoolteacher smiled at me broadly at the end of a very enjoyable Shakespeare workshop I'd led with her students. Her words left me speechless. All I could do was smile back at her weakly. If she only knew what it meant "to be me"...
Four years on: Love is the only thing that keeps me going.