In which I am disgusted with myself (lol), the horrifying trials of visa applications, and how I’ve grown up quite a lot, actually
Par for the course, you haven’t heard from me in a while. “A while” in the sense that it’s been so long, it feels strange addressing a — let’s face it — void as a “you.” The last time I was here, I’d moved into a newer new place after being kicked out, unceremoniously, from what was meant to be the new place. We moved out of the house in Bow, because Laura just decided she was moving back to Zürich and I wanted a new room with no carpet.
Anyway, a lot has happened since then. Obviously. I want to say that I’ve had no time to write here because I had been working full-time¹ but we all know Heather B. Armstrong, aka Dooce.com, got fired for blogging about work and co-workers, so, well… you can blog while working. I just did not.
I mean, what left is there to say in long form anymore? I post on Instagram in an embarrassing frequency, a glutton for validation, and perhaps this dead space on the Internet can serve as a less immediate way of processing things in my life, but also I am hoping to excise that disgusting part of myself that needs the likes for truly the most inane things. Like, who actually cares? And, even more importantly, why do I?
My boyfriend Mark is off the grid, pretty much completely. If he could have WhatsApp and iMessage on a brick phone, he’d jump on it immediately. The only grid he is on is my Instagram (again, disgusting of me!) and he says he is happier for it. The being off the grid part, not the me posting his face all over my account part.
I think that could be true for me, but also, I grew up doing this, writing about life in all its boring glory, and Instagram was just a natural progression of the platforms. Maybe. I don’t know. I just want to write. And like, not have my writing live in long Instagram captions, a la Caroline Calloway, although that seemed to work out for her.²
To be frank, I didn’t come back on here to talk about my weird Instagram insecurity. I had been looking up passport validity extensions and visa processes, since I was planning on visiting Mark’s family in Ireland for his mom’s birthday in April. Visa applications are tedious tasks I hadn’t really had to do since a) I have my current visa security, b) there’s a pandemic, and c) I didn’t want to travel outside the U.K. when I was studying or when I was unemployed because I felt guilty about the money.
I truly forgot how insane the process can be, and how much proof and cash that you had to surrender to convince people that you are not going to be overstaying or asking for funds or relying on their government. And even then you could get denied.
I had enjoyed regaling “first world” nationals with the horrors of visa applications over the past four years I’d been living here. “You can’t even go to Paris?!” The relative ease of most systems in place here had spoiled me and fooled me into thinking that the rest of the world works in the same way. Alas, my passport is still 74th on this version of Global Passport Power Index, alongside Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Rwanda. There are only 23 countries in the world that we can travel to visa-free.
Rather than curling up into a ball in defeat, however, looking at the list from where I am (my studio! In London!) made me realise that I have grown up into a capable person. Like many, many, many Filipinos, who don’t move out unless they’re married, I had to figure out how stuff worked at an embarrassingly old age. My parents (who I love very much) booked my doctors’ appointments, reminded me of renewal dates, took care of insurance, drove me around. I never really did chores growing up, even though I could. And moving here taught me that there is a big difference between knowing how to do something and having to do something because no one else will. I still celebrate when I cross the street with ease, poise, and amazing timing.
¹ Lol, it was only for three months. I asked for my hours to be reduced when I realised I’d been working there for two months and hadn’t gone to my studio — 30 minutes away from my house, by foot! — once.
² As of writing, her Instagram has been completely wiped clean, so maybe I am wrong.