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The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Friday, February 29, 2008

My Last Night in Birmingham

I wrapped things up today for the big leave tomorrow. I went to the post office to pick up a package (turned out to be some bank stuff, disappointing, I was hoping for a book I'd forgotten or an army info pack). I went to the bank and activated my new bank card. I bought some chocs for the Cheels (the family who have been so gracious to host me the past few weeks). Finally, yes, I handed in my uniform at Macky's (still damp from washing it yesterday, no tumble dryer): tout un symbole. I also gave them a little resignation letter in which I thanked Andy for giving me the opportunity to support myself independently for the first time. Sincere smiles and best wishes and a firm handshake later, and I was off, feeling very warm and fuzzy.

Birmingham has on balance been a bad experience. I could have done a great deal to make things more pleasant and successful. Before finishing up uni and going to France, I should have got my National Insurance number (for the dole), investigated flats and applied to jobs. I should have asked the various friends and family I might have been able to stay with, rent-paying, to ease my integration into the area. I should not have jumped blindly into a new environment, alone, with scarcely a plan A, and certainly no plan B. I have learned a great deal for next time.

And things could have gone well. I might have landed in a better place to stay. I might have scored one of those snazzy jobs I went to interview for. If I'd been in a better frame of mind, I might have made friends with more of the people I'd met. And things weren't all bad. I've read more books in the past 6 months than the rest of my life put together. I've been able to visit, and appreciate, friends and family every few weeks. I got to go to my first interviews, suit and all. I've learned the assertiveness to ask and get jobs. I've been a waiter in a Spanish restaurant, a dole recipient, a mover for a law firm, a office worker for a brewery, an audiotypist for a psychiatric hospital (featuring the depressive, the insane and the drug/alcohol dependent, made me feel downright normal) and, of course, a McCrew member. It almost sounds cool, and could be made into a quirky chapter in my autobiography.

1 Comments:

Anonymous WYT said...

jesus, you almost sound optimistic... :p

7:56 PM  

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