Working through my breakup… with the city of Leeds

I’m looking out my window and I see nothing except Christmas lights on my neighbours tree, as Icelanders have been encouraged to put their Christmas lights up early this year, in order to light up the dark days left of 2020.

While I stare out and my mind wonders I can hear the wind blowing outside, it beats the outside of the house, in order to make sure we realise it’s wintertime. Regardless of the lack of snow the weather can still be quite miserable. To be honest, it would at least look festive with some snow on the ground. In addition to the wind I hear news anchors from abc News try to dissect what it was Trump just said in his speech this evening and which results we may expect from the US election.

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My feelings over the last few weeks have been very mixed. I feel so confused!

I’m happy to be closer to my family. At the same time, I can’t see many of my family members as Covid19 in on the rise in Iceland, as it is everywhere else.

Close but far away

I hear my grandad’s memory is deteriorating and that each day there is less of him there.  However, I am incredibly grateful as I got the chance to fulfil the promise I made to him in 2018, which was that if I wouldn’t move back from the UK once I would finish my studies, I would at least visit him. He didn’t believe me.

I know he doesn’t remember my promise, nor does he remember me.  

I love my grandad as much as I hate Alzheimer’s and as much as I fear the fact that it runs in family. Before this disease took over, we used to joke about him knowing the name of every pebble in Iceland. He used to work as a bus driver and he enjoyed travelling around Iceland so much he said it didn’t feel like work. He also told us he hoped we would be able to get jobs doing something we enjoyed as much as he loved driving.

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Everyone is moving on

Now that we are back my partner has a job in a kindergarten. A fantastic and surprising career move but definitely the right one for him. He loves working with kids and embraces the change he’s getting. He’s far away from an office desk and everyone he manages is under the age of 5, they’re not competing for a promotion, they don’t know how to be fake and the most horrible insult they know is to call him a “fart man”.

My kids are thriving. The big ones are back in school. They are so much more self-sufficient here. I feel like they’ve grown a few years.

They get themselves up in the mornings and make their own lunch boxes and get themselves to school. They get home all by themselves, do their homework and once that’s done they spend time with their friends.

The freedom kids have in Iceland and amount of socializing they do can’t be compared with their lives in the UK. The UK will always lose that battle. And I understand. That’s one of the reasons why we’re back. Even so, I’m not sure about the move. I feel stuck. Mixed emotions.

My three-year-old goes to kindergarten and is flourishing. She desperately needed to mingle with kids her own age. She goes to a great school where I pay less for a month than I would a week in the UK. She’s got first class teachers and lovely, cooked meals every day. She looks forward to going and doesn’t really get why we take weekends off. To begin with, she thought the school had closed due to coronavirus, I explained that her teachers just needed some time with their own kids and families as well. She understood that.

My big eyed, little munchkin. The surprise of a lifetime, my 15-month-old baby is also going to day-care. She goes to 3 ladies that work together with a group of 10 children around the age of 1.

The first 5 weeks broke my heart.

My little monkey was a proper Covid baby. She didn’t know that people outside of her immediate family existed, in 3D. She knew she could talk to people on little screens and she would see people pass by on the other side of the street but from the age of 6-months-old she didn’t touch anyone who didn’t live with her. She didn’t exchange any communication with anyone outside of our group of 6, unless they were on screens. Therefore, it was a huge change for her to leave the comfort of her mothers’ arms to go and play with other children and be left with ladies she’d never seen before.

She got over it and now waves goodbye. I still want to cry when I leave her there, but I resist.

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Is it regret, nostalgia, homesickness or something else?

I feel a bit out of place. It’s a weird time and a weird place.

It’s Covid time, there aren’t many roles going out there.

I have a degree which partly doesn’t make sense here. I’m not really sure that many companies over here realise what Corporate Communications is. So many people are unemployed, I’m one of them.

I’ve had the odd job of translating and writing and I’m doing a sales job from home at the moment. I’m good at it. However, it’s a new product and people are sceptical. I tend to land sales jobs where I’m selling stuff people either don’t know they need, or they don’t understand. A year or two later, every company has it. It’s better than doing nothing.

I can’t shake off the feeling of being misplaced.

It’s weird. I know I wouldn’t want to be in the UK right now and I wouldn’t want to be in the UK during (yet another) lockdown. However, I’d like to be in the UK, in general, under normal circumstances.

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When I think about the fact I can’t jump into my car and drive to York whenever I want, it saddens me. When I realise I won’t walk the streets of Leeds, looking at the buildings around me, dreaming of a day where I have enough money to pop into a nice cocktail bar after work my heart sinks. Dreams I had in Leeds, not even the reality I had there.

Well, I miss the reality too. I miss the weather (I kid you not!), I miss my friends and I miss my neighbourhood. I miss my university and my professors as well as other people I met during my time in the UK.

I miss hedgehogs, trains and Primark. I miss having my friends and family from Iceland over and being able to afford to go around and show them this fantastic place I lived in.

I miss believing my years in the UK were the first steps to an international career.

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Struggling through familiar emotions

I am now back in Iceland, renting a house we get to call home for a year and hoping we can keep making ends meet. Hoping that I’ll land a job related to my education soon. Hoping that coronavirus will disappear and hoping that I’ll finally be content.

But I know I won’t live here forever, as much as I love Iceland and as much as I love my family. The world fascinates me too much.

I guess the feelings I’m having are similar to those you get when a relationship ends. When all of a sudden, the future you were planning isn’t there anymore. The people you were socialising with are gone. When everyday life seems like a distant memory. And you must get in terms with that. You have to get over it and get on with your life and make the best of this new reality.

Yeah, that’s how I think I am feeling. Some days I’m fine and all is good but some days I feel empty and little bit like a failure. Just like I’ve felt at the end of relationships.

But Leeds, I’ll be back. We’ll stay friends and keep in touch. You’ll always have a big space in my heart and no one can take our memories away.

The sun will rise in the morning, even though we’re expecting a storm. USA might have a new president. At some point Covid-19 will be something the world went through, together, and defeated. And soon I’ll get a role which will let me shine, show what I’m made of and let me use all this amazing stuff I learned while I studied in the UK. In the meantime, chin up and (mostly) positive thoughts!     

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