I arrived in San Francisco with a trunk full of my prized possessions, and a suitcase full to the brim with hopes & dreams at this time last New Years Eve. Newly liberated from a controlling relationship, and the confines of a small studio apartment in Los Angeles, I was excited to be the leader of my life again.
Last Fall, I found myself alone and without a plan, stranded in Paris France with a flight back to LA right before the holidays. With the help of friends and strangers, I floated across Europe with very little money in my pockets, and a heart colder than the chilling winds of an English winter.
I knew I wanted to move to England since I was an awkward pale kid with scraggly hair, and a dark sense of humour. My first Christmas away from home, I sipped vodka straight from the bottle while I watched families skate together at a sold out ice rink by myself. I sat there bitter, and cold and told myself that if I could be this alone on Christmas Day in my hometown, I may as well be this alone across the globe. The holiday season is always the coldest.
Last winter was the coldest I’ve endured yet, but I came out alive and became a stronger woman because I survived it alone. It was last winter, in the heart of Hackney Central when I realised where I’ve belonged my whole life, and that place was, and still is London.
I made a vow to myself that winter in Hackney, that I’d move to England that year. I didn’t care what it would take, and I knew I’d have to do it alone. Loneliness was my friend by this point. I knew I was better off alone in a city that I felt finally understood me.
These days, most people I’ve met on the road have moved for love, work or school. I moved to London for love; my love of the city. I was lucky enough to fall in love there with the kindest and most supportive soul I’ve met yet, my fiancé Nat Rush.
In reflection of 2015, I can’t believe how strong and independent I’ve become. I’ve finally come to respect myself, and not let others disrespect me. Ridding myself of the majority of my belongings, and moving to a new country has led to a new, happier chapter in my life. I moved the summer of my 26th birthday. I’d like to think the first quarter of my life was the hardest, and the darkest, and that it’s all uphill from here on.
I’ve overcome more major fears than I thought possible. Overcoming the fear of loneliness has led me to finding the love of my life.
Towards the end of my 6 month visa in the UK, my sublet in Stoke Newington had just ended. I packed my belongings and left them with a friend and embarked on my travels throughout England, to Glasgow, Scotland.
I didn’t want to travel to Liverpool alone, but wouldn’t let the fear of traveling there alone stop me. Yes, I felt a bit isolated for going alone, but I knew I had friends there and would make new friends at the festival I was traveling there for.
Within a few hours of arriving in Liverpool, I befriended a group of girls I still keep in contact with. I call them the glitter girls. We hopped in a taxi with a bottle of wine to Liverpool Psych Fest.
A few hours in, I locked eyes with a beautiful boy with an unforgettable smile. We bashfully exchanged looks with one another until I laughed nervously and looked down at the ground. When I looked back up again, he was still smiling so I smiled back. The entire exchange happened in slow motion. I clutched my new-found friends hand, and told her what happened.
Today, it’s a new year… and my fiancé is in my home country with me. We’re flying to Australia to live and work next month. All I can say now, is that life’s better together in a big world.
by Stephanie Underhill