At the beginning of July, we moved out of the UK. That move after 26 years — a lifetime, really — coincided with the storm brought about by the Brexit referendum. There’s no need to describe what that was like. Anyone likely to be reading this blog post will know all too well all that happened immediately after the referendum, and all that continues to develop as a result. But leaving the UK at that time definitely added a harrowing sense of the surreal to what was already a personally difficult time.
And then we landed in the US, just a week before the Republican Convention and the official nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate. The storm which had been brewing in the run-up to that time became a very dark and dangerous storm indeed once that threat became a reality. A week later, the Democratic Convention with a very different tone and a very different message nominated the first woman ever to be the Presidential nominee of a major party. It seemed obvious to me that even if you disagreed with Hillary Clinton’s ideas and mistrusted her — as many do — you had to take heart at this groundbreaking nomination and all it means for American women and the men who live and work beside them. Unfortunately, now several days after that convention, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
The storms that are wracking both of my homes are so virulent that no one can hear anything above the noise, and nobody can see the horizon brightening beyond the clouds. I have learned that I live in a bubble. London is not the same as England which is not the same as the UK. Martha’s Vineyard is much further away from mainstream America — whatever that is — than even it’s 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland would have you believe. But I suppose none of this is news except to me and to my understanding of how these storms are very much reflected in my own interior space.
This enormous change in my life, coming after a year of changes to our family (all good, but nonetheless…) has created a storm of emotions inside of me. Perhaps, calmer shores on either side might have made my own personal storm less dramatic. Maybe not. But, as I have joked too often, like the characters in Thomas Mann’s master work, Buddenbrooks, my own little life is a microcosm of the whirlwind outside of me. It is a stormy time, both inside and out. And if I am learning anything from all this, it is that the future is impossible to control or even predict and all I can do is hold firm to my own life and passions — which means my family and friends, my work in SE Asia with Writing Through, and my writing. It is the writing which, for some reason, seems to always come last but I am realising that writing my novels and poetry, and yes, this blog, is the best navigational tool that I have. Writing may not be able to keep the storms at bay. But writing may just keep me afloat.