I’d come back to looking forward to spending a few months in the house in Westover Road, Clapham, which I’d had such fun sharing with a group of young Cambridge Law graduates before going to Spain. I was shocked to find the household breaking up. People were moving on; there seemed to be a change in the power dynamics in the house; Gavin was more openly using drugs. I’d had to cope when another housemate, normally so reserved, came in to my bedroom one night when he’d been drinking too much; and with pressure to enter a relationship with Bernie, a happy and friendly New Zealander, at a time when I was grieving the breaking up of a relationship in Spain. Westover Road, my only base in London now that many of my expat friends had returned to Australia, was fraught with problems. I began to long for my friends in Australia.
I found the London I’d loved so crowded, so very crowded! Walking the streets, relatively empty when left in late September the previous year, wasn’t relaxing. The perpetual queueing during August, the busiest month in London’s tourism year, frustrated me immensely. I began to long for the less crowded streets of Melbourne. I increasingly felt that these weren’t ‘my streets’, the people weren’t ‘my people’.
I longed to see my mother and mourned for my beloved grandmother who had died while I was overseas. Both my sister and brother had remarried while I was away, their lives moving on, with blended families keeping them so busy. My only connections to Australia were my new brother-in law John’s parents in Manchester. I had visited them in their ‘2 up 2 down’ in Manchester a number of times before going to Spain and was quick to visit them again on my return to England. They played me a tape of my sister’s children, who were just 6 to 8 at the time. I felt that I was ‘missing out’.
Throughout this time I was investigating fob watches and nursing shoes, and searching out a car to take me to Scotland and use for the next two years. I found myself delaying these purchases, putting them off.
One evening, Phil, a share house friend I had travelled to France with, sat down with me at the kitchen table at Westover Rd over a cup of tea. Suspecting I was depressed, he listened to me, then said, “Bev, I suspect you are incredibly homesick and might need to go home”… I hadn’t identified it so clearly. Phil’s diagnosis was ‘spot on’. Feelings of home sickness had increasingly to begun sweep over me, sometimes in gentle, slow running waves, at others in huge, overwhelming, dumping breakers.
I had to make a decision about what to do. Reflecting over the next few days, I began to see that I would be unlikely to last the distance in Scotland, feeling as I did, that it would be selfish to take up a place in a course I may well decide to leave. It was all just too hard. I decided to withdraw from the course, return to Australia and resume teaching.
I put pursuing a nursing career in my ‘Too Hard’, basket!