Tapping into the Happy Place


It's been a rollercoaster of a week. One week ago today, I received my visa approval and was told by my rep in the UK that he would advise me as to "next actions." Monday (was it really only just this past Monday?), he informed me we're greenlighted to book my flight over. Elation ensues.


I was advised to book my dogs' travel first, as that was the more complicated part of the planning. Sure enough, I ran into snag after snag, especially due to the pandemic but probably other factors, as well. (One of the travel reps told me one of the airlines had recently been heavily fined for shipping dogs in too-small containers, so now all the airlines are wary, precise and exacting.) Several airlines aren't shipping dogs at all, and still others are unable to accommodate my dogs' new enormous crates on regular passenger planes, even international ones. Despair ensues.


Finally, with the help of talented "pet relocation" agents, I was able to find a couple different options for their travel, one of which is remarkably close to my ideal travel plan of flying out of Seattle on a direct flight to London. Elation again.


And then my anxiety kicked in. I had been so wrapped up in the logistics of which airline flew out of which city, and what was the name of the agent from XYZ Pet Relocators, again? Was that Frannie or Susan?, that I forgot to be terrified. Terrified of all the sorts of things which most terrify me: that my dogs will die in transit and will suffer horribly for hours under the plane before succumbing; that I will contract COVID and end up vomiting black blood just like that guy who had Ebola in the book "The Hot Zone" back in the 1990s and meanwhile nobody would be around to take care of my dogs; that I'll have a full blown panic attack which the authorities will mistake for COVID and I'll still end up hauled off and unable to help my dogs. Sobbing & dog-hugging ensues (much to the dogs' confusion and dismay -- you'd think they'd be used to it by now).


Meanwhile, in the middle of all this, the clock ticks on. Day after day gets crossed off my (yes, paper) calendar. My move-out date from this house creeps closer. I still have packing boxes in various states of completion scattered around my house, waiting to be filled and/or moved to my storage unit. Tick Tick Tick.


I don't know what to pack, what to take, what to leave behind, what to jettison entirely. All my language stuff -- French, Spanish, Italian, Russian -- Am I going to need all that stuff, or maybe not need it but merely want it? If COVID recedes, Paris is only a two hour tunnel away. Surely I'll want to take advantage of that, right? (It's now been more than five years since I've been to Paris, longer than any stretch since I started traveling about twenty years ago. I miss it terribly.) And all the clothing. Well, yes, I'm sure they sell jeans and shirts in Wales, but I like my own stuff. Besides, I hate to shop for clothes, and they're expensive to replace once you start adding it all up. And Wales is all locked down again right now anyway, and who knows how long that's going to last. Extreme indecision results in distracted TV-related procrastination.


Today, however, I posted a query to an online chat group I tuck into from time to time. And some of the responses were just lovely & uplifting: "You're going to love it here!" "I came over twenty years ago and would never think of leaving!" Suddenly I was a bit weepy again, not from despair but (finally) from eager anticipation. Is it really possible this could actually work out? That I might fly over and arrive safely without incident, my dogs privately chauffeured directly to my front door like the deserving princesses they are? Could we maybe have fun and enjoy the exploration, as I'd anticipated way back at the beginning of this idea, able to laugh at the inconveniences and misfortunes? Is it really possible this won't all end up in catastrophic failure?


And suddenly, I knew what to pack. Sure, let's throw those language books in a box and ship them over. Yes, take the nonstick sauté pan and favourite whisk. And my cordless drill, can't do without that. Sure, it'll cost a bit of money, but why was I so eager to deprive myself of things I enjoy? Bathrobe and slippers, most definitely. Maybe even my Siberian fly swatter (a fly swatter made in Siberia, not a swatter made for swatting Siberian flies -- tricksy adjectives). And the little bobble-head Jayne figurine from Firefly. (If you haven't seen the Firefly series, you really really should do.)


It occurred to me this must be what it's like to live without depression and anxiety, to have hope and optimism and an attitude of "Sure! Let's do it! It'll be awesome!" -- My entire body feels different. Sort of a bit tingly in a buzzy sort of way. Is this what happiness feels like? I mean, it's not as if I've never experienced happiness, but this is somehow unadulterated, uninterrupted by Anxiety noticing I'm happy and rushing in with caveats, "Sure sure sure, that's all well and good but what if THIS happens?!?" Today Anxiety is away somewhere, blown off by the winds of a tentative confidence and buoyancy that I might actually be doing this "right" and it might actually be okay.


The resultant clarity of my thoughts is mind-blowing. I think about something, decide on it, and don't then spend hours second-guessing and reinvestigating -- for the umpteenth time -- every single option in case I missed something the first zillion times I looked at it from every conceivable angle.


Several years ago, I was married to a man who was about a foot taller than I was. Hiking and skiing with him could be really annoying and frustrating, as he could outstride me about thirty percent with each step. Trying to keep up, I felt like one of those tiny chihuahuas you see walking down the street with their legs moving so fast as to be just a blur. But one day at work, I had to stand up on a ten-inch footstool to adjust a lightbulb and suddenly looked out over the room -- I have to say, it was shocking to see how much more I could see from that angle! And I thought, "Y'know, this must be what it's like for my husband all the time! No wonder he enjoys going out to festivals and clubs, so much more than I do. He can actually SEE stuff!" -- Today was a bit like that, for me, this new perspective: "Oh, this is how nondepressed people move through the world.... Neat."


I'm not entirely sure how to live here, in this new mental space, more regularly, but I'd really like to try. It's a bit intoxicating, like emerging into a bright and colourful world after having been locked in a closet for several decades. It's really really nice. I'm sure it's not possible to remain here permanently, especially with my genetics and medical history, but, ... wow.


So then excuse me a moment while I take my new decisive and happy self off to pack some more boxes, just once, properly the first time.


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