Only two more weeks in the UK
Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 - 5:20 pm.

This is our last weekend in this neighborhood. Crookes was good to us. I found a life here that I'd only seen on TV and, at the most, in my mind when I was a child and played with my tiny dolls, who lived in the country (a couch) and commuted to the city (the living room floor) for work. You can say that living in the UK has been a dream come true, one that I didn't even register as a dream.

Anyway. I'm in peace with the fact that we're leaving, a state of mind that I didn't think I'd be capable of having when this time arrived. My heart shrinks whenever I look around, resenting the enormous loss of this safe, beautiful living environment, but I'm ready to say goodbye. I even hate myself for saying this, because I was supposed to not be ready and cry until I got my way of staying somehow, but so it goes. It is for the better.

Also, good news coming from all fronts:

1. The cats made it safely to Chile! This means winning half the battle that is us moving back across the Atlantic. A driver came to pick the cats up on Monday morning. It killed me seeing them terrified in those crates, when only five minutes ago they'd been lounging like any other day. Nico, the ginger one, was screaming from the back of the truck. Andrew and I hugged and cried in our empty dining room, an emptier house now without the cats.

The agency handling the cats' trip was great, and kept us updated. They spent the night at a cattery in London, fucking bourgeois cats. We tracked their flight, and then our friend Karin, who was picking them up at the Santiago airport with her husband, sent us news regularly. She's traveled with cats internationally, so she knows her way around handling pets at the airport.

Eventually, on Wednesday night, we got pics from the cats settling in at Karin's vet clinic, in our city (a 6-hour drive from Santiago. That's a friend, eh). They have a room for themselves with food, water, litter, toys, beds, a tree, and a cupboard near the ceiling to which they can retreat. They're doing great. I'm so grateful.

2. I said this in my last entry, but it bears repeating: We have a temporary house! The other Chilean student in our PhD program, who went to Psych undergrad school with Andrew, will rent us her house until December. She's staying here in the UK until then, for her PhD exam and related paperwork.

Last night she invited us over to her flat for a last meal together. She, her husband, and her teenage daughter have been wonderful with us. Andrew and I stayed with them at their first flat for a week when we arrived, almost four years ago. And since then we've hung out frequently, seen one another at the department nearly everyday, and helped each other out. We are bound by the PhD experience, and Andrew and her even more so, bound by studying Psychology altogether, pretty much.

3. We also have a temporary job waiting for us! Our two former bosses made some room for Andrew and me, each of us with one of them, as research assistants. It's nothing we should settle on, and our bosses know that, but it's a starting point for us to stay in our old city until December, while we try to find something more stable and suitable in the South.

4. We got our plane tickets to Chile! We're leaving the UK on September 2nd. Andrew and I have been mentally preparing ourselves to leave for a while now, so by this week we were in sore need of a date to know all this anticipation had an actual end. So this is it.

Even though at some point it seemed we were ahead of ourselves with getting rid of our stuff, the timing now makes a lot of sense. We've avoided being in a rush with lots of tasks, and this weekend we're just packing our stuff. Our letting contract is up next Friday, the 23rd.

The day before, next Thursday, we're moving to the house of, say, the Patriarch of the Chilean community here. He's on a trip overseas and he and his wife, bless them, lent us their house for us to stay until we leave the country. He was the one who came to pick us up at Manchester airport when we arrived four years ago. He and his wife are always receiving and housing Chilean students who come to the city, and hoarding all sorts of stuff to hand out to whomever might need them (among the things he passed on to us when we arrived were a sofa, and two office chairs).

This upcoming week we'll finish cleaning up the house, we'll get together with our supervisor for one last coffee, and we'll have farewell drinks with people from the Psych department. Unfortunately, my friend Eric is in Germany these two weeks, so he'll come just in time to say goodbye. He asked to see us off at the airport. I partly don't want that because it'll be heartbreaking, but also we couldn't say no to him.


5. I'm going on a date! With a girl!

Which is only true in my head. The fact is that I'm meeting for coffee with V, a friend of Eric's, who met her via the LGBT+ staff network at my (soon to be ex) university. I sort of saw her before Pride last month, "she was the one holding the rainbow umbrella", said Eric, but I don't remember anybody's face -nor the umbrella- from that time. Eric introduced Andrew and me to his staff network friends inside a boiling hot Café Nero, while it rained outside before the parade. It was too hot inside and I just wanted to get out of there, even if it meant getting soaking wet.

I don't know why Eric thought about introducing us. My mind's go-to explanation was "I was looking smoking hot that day -I was, indeed- and she liked me, so she asked Eric to hook us up!". This explanation comes merely from my unattainable vital goal of being a sensual motherfucker who charms the world to its knees. The most likely explanation is that Eric must have mentioned my research about fiction and transphobia in a conversation. V, being trans, was moderately interested, and Eric ran with it, friendly lad that he is.

I still like the "oooh, she was attracted to you the moment she set her eyes on you, you temptress" narrative more.

So anyway, V seemed happy to meet up for coffee and a chat, and we're meeting this Wednesday. I shamefully had to ask Eric for a picture of her because I didn't remember what she looked like, and her email account didn't have a photo; mine does, so she'd recognize me while I pretended I remembered her from Pride. "She'll be wearing her rainbow lanyard", Eric said, but a lot of people wear a rainbow lanyard on campus.

But now I know (*ahem* remembered) what she looks like, and I can focus my usual fear of being wildly uninteresting.

So there! Two more weeks in the UK and, strangely, my body is ready. Things seem to be going our way smoothly, although there's been lots of micro-struggles for that to happen.

Andrew and I have mixed feelings, but we have cool conversations about it when we're having breakfast on the floor, or lunch at our office. Most importantly, we're determined to not go back to our old sucky ways when we used to live in Chile, going from home to work and viceversa.

In one of these conversations, I told him I'd like to go to a strip club or such one day, but I'm always scared something will happen while I'm there and my face will be in the news, and people will think I'm doing all this stuff behind his back, my poor cheated husband. He replied that if I'm on TV after a raid at a sleazy place, I should raise my hand making the peace and love sign and yell "best regards!" at the camera. See, this is a guy you'd enjoy being married to. I'm hoping our fun life will continue, wherever we are.

TL;DR: our countdown to leave the UK, plane tickets in hand, has officially begun. And I'm going on a date with a woman, you can't make me think otherwise.

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