I won’t lie, I was originally going to post this a couple of months ago under the title of “The Time That I Completed a Project Started 7 Years Ago” and go on a lengthy rant about how difficult it is to apply for your British Citizenship, but then I got paranoid that that would bring bad karma so I waited. And now that IT IS HERE! I can finally say it – I am a dual citizen! I have the right to live in work in the UK and the EEC! And I couldn’t care less about how long it took, how expensive it was or how difficult they make the process. Because this one simple item holds the key to my future. My adventure. My new.
While I may no longer feel the need to recount each agonising step, I do find myself reflecting on the journey I took to get here. The first time I thought about applying, I was a naive 21 year-old, undergrad hoping to go overseas after school. I was in a relationship and got offered a dream summer job so when I hit a roadblock my guarantor, I simply put the whole thing on hold. For the next several years, I worked with passion in a field where I felt I was making a difference and my overseas adventure kept getting pushed back. Years later, I found myself recovering from the end of that long-term relationship and struggling with a difficult job market, so I again looked into the passport process. While wading through the paperwork and the bureaucracy, I found another great job and made a home for myself in Toronto. I connected with a networks of inspirational grassroots groups, I made new friends, and I found I didn’t want to leave. Three more years ticked slowly by filled with love, passion, heartbreak, stress, excitement and eventually boredom. I found myself again at a point where my European adventure was at the forefront of my mind and this time, (after a TON of work, no jokes, don’t take this on lightly!), I have finally been successful. I look back on those seven years with all the obstacles and the failed starts and I realize that I am a vastly different person today than I was seven years ago.
Throughout this process I also naturally find myself thinking about the future. This passport is valid for 10 years: from 2013 to 2023. 2023 people!! I will be 37 years old. I have no idea what that means, where I will be, what my life will be like. When I was preparing my application, I had to find my mother’s expired British passport and I realized that when she applied in 1975 she was a young, single woman heading off on an adventure. I don’t think for a second she could have predicted that by the time her passport expired in 1985 she would have been a married, home-owner with two kids! 10 years is a phenomenal long time and imagining where you will be is a futile exercise. I find that both terrifying and wildly exciting!
What about now? What comes next? I have been praying for this moment for months. It held such promise. It was to be my salvation. It was the key that would free me from the bindings of my routine, my job, my heartbreak. And now here it is and, honestly, I am terrified. Will I actually quit my job, rent out my apartment, say goodbye to all my loved ones and take a plane to another country without a plan? I like to pretend that I am spontaneous, easy-going and that I can go with the flow. But actually I love lists, timelines and making detailed plans, and I do not respond well when people fuck with my schedule. Can I really jump without a safety net?
Perhaps even more worryingly, I am now I am beginning to question my real motivation for leaving. Am I really setting off on an adventure that will make me independent, worldly and brave? Or am I running away from my pain and heartbreak? Perhaps it is both. Perhaps I am leaving because of him, but I am going for myself. And perhaps that is ok. Perhaps it is just another part of my journey. I have wanted to live in Europe since age 12 when I visited Paris for my cousins wedding. For the past 15 years, I have dreamed of semesters abroad, international jobs, foreign husbands – a million ways and reasons to go. And today I finally can. After a lifetime of desire, I finally get to follow one of my dreams.
So today I say yes to scalding hot tea with milk, to fish and chips, to shortbread. I say yes to Big Ben, to the Crown Jewels, to Stonehenge. I say yes to adventure, to spontaneity, to the next phase of my life.