It's not quite two months, I suppose, but it is eight weeks today since I arrived in Edinburgh. So I thought I would write a post in commemoration.
I started to write it this morning and after another night on which it took hours to get to sleep, it was all exhaustion, frustration, disconnection. There is no doubting that life has been challenging in these eight weeks in a new town, and that there still is a significant element of exhaustion as it seems like everything is new, unfamiliar, unknown.
But then I went and had a day that moved me progressively towards happy again.
Coffee (and morning tea for her, breakfast for me) with Katie was restorative, grounding, affirming and encouraging. She's come from another country, settling in various new cities here in the UK over the years, so she gets it; and she can speak encouragement from the other side and affirm that I will reach a time when this city feels known and I feel known in return. Katie is one of those people I feel I have known long before I actually met her; today we filled in chapters of our stories and I saw why I have that feeling about her. She is one of a number of people who make me very grateful to be in this city in this time.
After coffee, I went to a meeting for those interested in organising the next post-grad conference for New College. Slightly dauntingly, it seems I have now joined a committee of two, with the other person the outgoing convenor. I hope we might gather a few more team members as we go along. I do believe in this conference as a good chance for students to hear from each other how their research and ideas are progressing, to practice our skills in giving and listening to papers, posing questions and responding to each other's ideas. Our challenge is to encourage more students to take the day to attend and participate in this shared learning together. As I shared with my fellow committee member about my PhD project, and why Edinburgh, I reminded myself of the passion for this project - from others here, not just me, and I was encouraged and my spirits lifted again.
I grabbed a quick lunch in Rainy Hall before going to our weekly communion service, and bumped into one of three in our Romans PhD posse and his wife, who invited me to join them. There is such joy in being called across a room, invited to sit beside others with a genuine pleasure that you are here. I heard about the planned thanksgiving celebration for next week, was invited to join in, and as we remembered the christmas light turning on ceremony of this coming weekend, we suggested we might meet up for this celebration in our new city.
I needed to find a chemist, because I have found various remedies helpful in the past in combatting my difficulties getting to sleep. Katie told me where I can find a chemist, and that alone made it seem more achievable - I'd been putting it off because it was one more new place to find, and that element of just about everything I have to do is exhausting, as I mentioned above. You take for granted, when you live in a place in which you have lived all your life - even though I've lived in half a dozen suburbs, they've all been within a small radius, and I've shopped in the same local and large shopping centres the whole time - that you know where things are, you know what you'll find, generally speaking, on the shelves of the shops, and you know what questions to ask. It seems so strange that so much of that would feel so foreign in another English-speaking, Western, Commonwealth country, whose culture has shaped my own.
Find the chemist I did, though I discovered that the rules differ slightly here for buying sleep remedies if you're on the medication I'm on, so the doctor will need to write me a note; but I even feel better having found them and knowing what the situation is.
Then I bought a backpack, which will make my walk to and from college so much more comfortable than it has been with the tote bag shuffle from one shoulder to the other. And that was thanks to a family and friends discount voucher from another fellow student.
It was a day of furthering connections, just when I needed such a day.
I've kept the words I typed this morning in the draft post I had saved - they're in a journal as a record of the very real feeling of frustration and exhaustion. But they do not exist without these words at the end of today, telling the alternate story of connection, restoration, encouragement and the mutuality of our being human. To all the humans who were part of this alternate story today, and shared with me so generously - thank you.