Four years later / about a friend from school
Saturday, Sept. 02, 2023 - 4:35 pm.

Andrew and I are observing our fourth anniversary of our return from the UK. My only memory of our journey back home is being in Manchester airport and learning that my friend's Anna's darling daughter had passed away. I told Andrew and I choked.

Everything felt so surreal.

In 2019, after four glorious years in Sheffield, Andrew and I (and our two cats) returned feeling defeated and uncertain about our future, hell, our present. It took us around four months to get up on our feet in the middle of social turmoil in the country, and we managed to reach just enough stability to get through the pandemic with relative leisure. Even with privilege.

Four years later, we're finally carving our place in uni as academics. We're waiting for the purchase of our little apartment to be processed, and we're hopefully closer to adopting our kid. We're both out of the closet (happy bi visibility month!) and more out to the world. There are always things to bitch about, but overall it feels that our struggles haven't been in vain.

This semester I'm teaching an undergrad course and I'm having so much fun with it. Sure, once again the dude I mentioned in my last entry said something cringey, about the unfairness of women getting a bonus pension for being women(?), but he's a glitch in the class (not to downplay the seriousness of his attitudes though, which can go a long way in harming people).

I look forward to the class. I enjoy what I'm teaching, and it feels the students are getting something meaningful out of it. My course lasts only half a semester (then I repeat the course to the other half of the 3rd year group), and the classroom is downstairs from my office.

I compare the above to my first time teaching an undergrad course, back in... 2014, 2015? I was exploited, underpaid, and I while I worked hard to master the contents of the course, I had no idea what I was doing. I was teaching at another uni too (my uni is across the street from our apartment building, though not for long*), and while it wasn't far away, public transport is a hassle, especially at 8 am with heavy rain. I'd teach all morning and come back at noon destroyed.

I had no office. I had no place to leave my stuff. For that uni, I only existed during class hours and that's what they'd pay me (poorly) for. Nevermind that I was teaching 3rd year in the Psych program, and the program had opened two years ago. I built the couple of courses that I taught from nothing, they did not pay me enough for that. But I was starting out in this country and in my career, and I needed the money.

This is where I say that I have come a long way.

*Our new apartment is not far away from uni either, it's just that the streets here are a mess, and not so nice to walk (doesn't help that I have Sheffield as a point of comparison; no contest). It's like a 7-minute drive and a 20-minute walk, but if you're driving with traffic, you might as well just walk.

I'm starting to get impatient with moving out of here, but we still have a few months until we can. Paperwork is moving but it goes so slowly. The real state agent said it could take up to three months, so I'm hoping that at least we'll be in our new apartment for Christmas.

I often check the photos of the apartment that we got from the listing, and I can't wait. I worry a bit about space, we're losing a bit of space for some aspects of our daily life. But don't get me wrong, it's an upgrade for us and the view is amazing!

So this is where we are now, four years after returning. This week we went to work and afterwards, we had a meeting with the social worker for the adoption on Monday, I had my sign language class on Tuesday, we had a meeting with the psychologist for the adoption on Wednesday, and I had my final evaluation of sign language on Thursday. I was nervous about the latter (had to talk to my deaf teacher about Forrest Gump), but I think I did well. Sign language rocks.

I have three mentions to make before I go. First, this week I learned that one of my uncles, my godfather, was in the hospital with covid sequels (I'm guessing he got it recently. Goddamn). It was scary, getting the news a few days ago, but he's back home and recovering. What a relief.

Second, the girl that looks after my parents underwent surgery today. She had apendicitis. That's a standard surgical procedure but that shit can also go downhill fast, so I'm glad she made it to the hospital on time.

Third, I learned that a friend from school, E, has breast cancer. A "very aggresive" type. I haven't talked to her except once or twice since we graduated in 2002, but I've always been very fond of her. Looking back, I've had a massive crush on her, she's gorgeous and kind and she was there for the birth of my cartoons, haha (for real! 4th grade). And I've always felt the same way about her despite all the time that's gone by. But this isn't about me. She's sick. She has a husband and two kids, and I can't imagine how painful and heartbreaking it is for her and her family.

I found out about her through the WhatsApp group of my class of 2002. I've always meant to leave that group, but I hate that the app lets everyone know you left and I guess I'm bound to social desirability that way. But I never fit in with my classmates as a whole. I was a loner; I wasn't bullied, thankfully. I've never cared to keep up with them. Most of them grew up and became quite conservative, but it's not like they had another option, I suppose.

So the former classmate that holds this group together is also E's close friend since high school. She let everyone know, but she's also very sensible in the sense that she understood that what E needs the most is cash to pay for her treatment. I'll give you that, the group has raised money before for different causes and they were all for it this time around.

It's just that they also post these "thoughts and prayers" messages, and others about being a fighter, and that everything will be alright in the end... you can't promise that! And seeing all that energy, that narrative that all she has to do is trust God and fight hard enough to beat cancer, turned me off and kept me from considering posting a message myself.

Look, maybe it does her well. I saw her answer to the messages from other classmates and they meant the world to her. Maybe it would do me some good to stick to those platitudes too because otherwise I'm at a loss for words.

So I want to get in touch with her, contribute to her treatment, but I don't want my message being seen by all those people that I haven't known for 20 years. I'll see how to get around that.

Besides all that, I'm scared and heartbroken for her. I think of her with cancer and I want to cry. I hope she makes it through, Jesus Fucking Christ, I hope she does.

Ok, enough for today.

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