Past Meets Present

The future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made. ~John Schaar

Courtney left yesterday.

At the airport, I was two seconds away from breaking down, sobbing my eyes out and dragging Courtney down onto the street, handcuffing her and ripping her boarding pass in two, three, no, five hundred little pieces. Luckily, this time, she was wise and said “Let’s make this quick and painless. Otherwise I’ll make a scene.” She saw into the future better than I did.

When I left Baltimore in December 2008 (Jock and I stopped in my home town on the way to England from Los Angeles), Courtney and I made a scene. It was bad. It was loud, and we were a mess. It went on for a painful amount of time – our crying and wailing and laments – and that didn’t make the leaving any easier. Thank God we refrained this time – for our sakes, and the poor English people around us. I don’t think the Brits are ready for the Bauer/Lopez breakdown.

Since Courtney left yesterday, I no longer feel like I’m living some type of fairy tale dream in England that doesn’t really exist. Don’t get me wrong, my life here existed before Courtney came to visit, but not really. I don’t really know how to explain it. I’ll do my best.

It’s like since there was no other human in Bristol who had experienced any other point in my life’s history – no one knew me as an actor (I acted for 17 years), or as a student (20 years), or as a single woman (most of my life), or even as a brunette (I was blonde for two years until three months ago). No one knew me in any other context besides being a foreigner in England and Jock’s girlfriend, so how did I know that any of my past really did actually happen? There was no one to talk to about it or reminisce.

Or, for that matter, how could I tell that my life in Bristol wasn’t all just a dream? How did I know I wasn’t really making it all up? Was my American accent even real, or was I just making it up to be different amongst these people? (These are some of the thoughts that would haunt me every once in a while).

Why do I need validation from the past to be happy in the present anyhow?

I’ve been in England for a year and three months, and although my sister was the first to visit last March, Jock and I didn’t have an apartment, a job or much money. So, we traveled with my sister and it was absolutely amazing as I love my sister to pieces, but I couldn’t show her where I lived. I hadn’t created a home for myself and I hadn’t yet made friends.

Having Courtney come this time – my best friend of 22 years – popped my illusive English bubble, and made it real. It was the first time I had my own living history walking next to me down my street, introducing her to my friends, showing her my town and my new country. It was the first time I had another American speaking in my ear while all the foreigners spoke in weird accents.

It’s only now that I can say that. It’s only now I realize that’s how it felt. I could write about my life here on this blog, my friends and family could comment on it, and I could send photos, but no one else was experiencing it with me. That’s the only way I can explain how it felt to have Court here – she made it real.

Our friends are a reminder of who we are. They bring us back to our hearts, remind us how we got here, and make sure we know who helped us to get here. They evoke forgotten memories and past lives. I miss my American friends. I miss them a lot, but I love my life here. Moving makes it impossible to always have everyone you meet along the way there with you (a lesson I learned young), but moving also brings the past to the present and makes you realize more about yourself than you ever knew.

That’s what I get from it at least.

19 thoughts on “Past Meets Present

  1. Pingback: Past - A Literal Girl

    • It is tough. Her leaving definitely hit me hard, but I'm trying to throw myself back into life. I have been reminiscing a lot the last couple of days since she left (including posting old photos on facebook!)

  2. I totally know what you mean. When my friend Amy, who I went to college and traveled through Europe with me, studied in London for a semester it made me feel at home for some reason. I loved when she'd reminisce about something we'd done a decade ago because it reminded me that I did exist a decade ago and that my life was more than the three years I'd been in England. Sometimes I just needed that human proof – so glad you got your dose this week.

    • Yeah. It's easy to get lost in the moment and the present, and at the same time, really important to do so…but sometimes we need that grounding. I think maybe a lot of celebrities get lost because they forget that very thing – they don't have people around who knew them when they weren't famous. Just a thought.

  3. Great post. I lost touch with my best friend from high school and we connected again after NINETEEN YEARS (that was freaky) through facebook. She was living briefly in London and I live just outside of London so we met up, hung out, really enjoyed each others company and it was just weird. Having a pice of my past in a piece of my present. My life in high school was very very different to my life here in Essex and mixing the two helped me see a few things differently, and helped me face a few things (home truths as well as the fears I had been running away from). It was cathartic. Im now much more at peace about my past and less obsessively protective of my present.

    I was really sad when she moved back to the States, but in a weird way, she needed to so I could get on with my life. That sounds strange, I dont know how to explain it though.

    • Thank you for being so honest with your comment. It's so refreshing to hear that I'm not the only one. It is definitely easy to keep running away from our past – hell, I've moved over 20 times in my life and know how easy it is to do that.
      I think people enter our lives at just the right time for a reason.

  4. Lovely post. I completely resonate with your experience. I had similar thoughts when I visited my friend in Paris. I would also argue that the reason we "need validation from the past to be happy in the present" is because the past creates a foundation from which we can move forward. To be willing to create and manifest toward the future, we must be able to feel the strength, love, and support of the familiar. Just a thought :)

    • I just am reading your blog Sabrina! You're such a talented writer! Love it.
      I am learning more and more about what you wrote everyday – "To be willing to create and manifest toward the future, we must be able to feel the strength, love, and support of the familiar." I don't think I ever truly had the familiar around (I moved to LA when I turned 18 and knew no one for six years of my life there). Now that I have Jock and have strong friendships elsewhere, I finally feel capable of creating an abundant life for myself. Thanks for your thought!

  5. I may not be in london but even a few states away I completely understand what you have felt! I love you an although I cannot walk next to you know I will at some point. I hope that helps you along. :) P.S. I might be studying abroad in london….
    Love you!

  6. Cor – this is a deep post and some great comments. You put into words what many expats feel. I almost feel like I have two personalities – the one I left in England when I came here in 1990, and the one in the USA. Funny thing is that my English friends only know me as a single young working girl, since that's when I left. They find it hard to imagine me as a parent. Sometimes it's like I'm floating above myself, watching my life play out.

    • "Sometimes it's like I'm floating above myself, watching my life play out. " – beautiful words. So true. I feel that sometimes. I think the comments make the post that much better! Thank you for your thoughts. It is appreciated more than you know.

  7. Pingback: Fully Assimilated? | The Lady Who Lunches Blog

  8. This is such a beautiful post! I have yet to move overseas, so I'm not sure if I have anything relevant to say. But I do know that sometimes it is hard to remember the past. Since being with my own Bristol Boy, it's sometimes hard to remember who I was before and what life was like before, how I felt, etc. I wish I had a close lifelong friend like you have with Courtney. I did have one, from diapers all the way through our teenage years, but life changes and different paths take us in different directions. But I guess that's where my parents and my brother come in, they've known me my whole life and they know me inside and out. It's good to surround yourself with people you trust who can remind you of who you really are. I like the point you made about celebrities, it certainly seems to be true.

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