I have been taking my time in Britain for granted and now I have to leave. New UK visa laws (and I mean 4 days ago new) say that I cannot change my immigration status form tourist to student from inside the country. Nor can I change my status in Ireland, France, or anywhere else other than the USA. I did all the research and planning months ago so this has come as quite a shock. I’m flying to Texas day after tomorrow to have a face to face meeting at the UK consulate (probably in Houston) and god only knows if this will all get processed in time for my August trip with Caitlin or my September 22nd term start date. Because the US Government changed all the financial aid laws last month, there are literally thousands of American students rushing to get visas. I feel my dream slipping away . . . again.
Not being in control of what’s happening to me and not knowing where I’ll be next month is very disconcerting. I feel homeless, directionless and frightened. The Buddhists I know would challenge me to celebrate not being in control. (In fact, I said something like that to Caitlin just the other day . . . damn it.) So here I sit in a café in Wales, not knowing what the hell is happening or having any control over much, not even the flavour of scone I just ordered. Curent . . . hmmm.
I’ve been so stressed that I haven’t taken the time to enjoy the Welsh coast very much. Llandudno is a cute Victorian town full of English “pensioners” (senior citizens) on holiday in the cheapest (and one of the prettiest) parts of the UK. The English tourists like to ask me for directions and seem surprised by my accent. There aren’t many Americans here. In fact I haven’t heard any American spoken since the day I left London. I hadn't even realized that until this moment. Somehow I feel like I belong in this country even though I'm an outsider. Sigh . . .
Llandudno is surrounded by wild, windy mountains and crashing surf. The air is teaming with seagulls the size of roosters whose favourite thing to do is argue at 3:00am. I could swear last night I heard two distinct cries of "No! No no no no noooo!" That, of course, made me lie awake for at least 20 minutes thinking about the seagulls in "Finding Nemo" that fly around screeching "Mine! Mine!" I don't think these speak the same language here. I haven't seem them fight over fish or scraps like they do in Galveston. They mostly gripe and gossip like their crusty human counterparts that hang out in the pubs. Maybe the gulls don't like the new Prime Minister either.
I’ve included a couple of photos of Llandudno as well as a couple from Stratford Upon Avon and Warwick Castle (which is like a permanent Renaissance Festival for small children). Levi and I went to see Shakespeare’s birthplace as well as a Royal Shakespeare Company performance of “Julius Caesar.” Brutus was played very well by Sam Troughton. That’s for you BBC Robin Hood fans. The rest of you are like “who the hell is that?” The RSC does some of the best Shakespeare around. Levi and I couldn’t decide whether the productions at the RSC or the Globe were better done. I vote for a tie. If you’ve never been to the Globe, I highly recommend it. There’s something to be said for seeing Shakespeare done in a more original setting. If you book a seat, make sure you rent a cushion. Serious bum-numbing occurs on those benches.
Friday I bid farewell to my beloved Britain. I hope to return soon. In the mean time, this is me celebrating not being in control. Woohoo. Who wants to buy the first drink?