When politics hit home
I have been planning to relocate my home base to the UK for about a year now, long before the EU referendum, or Brexit, came to a head in that country. Yes, the move is part of my plan to cultivate my audience base in Europe, but honestly, it’s mostly about following true love and the dream of cohabitive bliss.
I want a stable, loving, actually physical place to call home; up until six days ago, the UK had seemed stable. If I could go to the UK and legally perform, in a steady sort of way, I might as well be with my lover at the same time, right? I was always going to be employed on a somewhat marginal basis, whether in the US or the UK. Plus, as UK Muse pointed out, the UK has far fewer guns than the US. (I never dreamed that guns would be a factor in figuring out where I wanted to live, but there it is.)
The love of my life, almost no guns, a small but growing network of fans and colleagues across the country and nearby continental Europe… the UK had started to feel like a decent option. Again, marginal employment and limited options for healthcare, depending on how quickly I got sorted for proper immigration, but this would be true in the States, too. I was ready… and then Brexit happened, and I was tap dancing on a hill of sand again.
This is the way my life has been for a long time, since I started doing phone sex and receiving food stamps because phone sex wasn’t enough; since before then, when I worked in marketing and felt myself struggling with actually being in the wrong profession; since my husband and I separated and tacitly agreed that we should handle our own expenses and I hadn’t realized how much I had leaned on him for mine. I can’t remember the last time I felt secure AND loved. Last week, when I felt the secure part of the equation wobble beneath me, I realized with a fresh ache how much I wanted it.
We all want to feel secure and loved, I think, and most of us lack this to greater or lesser degree. If you think of security and love as two spectra—separate and parallel—then refugees fall on one extreme end and very well-adjusted millionaires fall on the other and most of us are somewhere in between. I’ve been slip-sliding along this scale in a range much lower than most of my age cohort, and I don’t hold out much faith in the upward direction. Phone sex and fringe theatre just aren’t hugely secure professions.
But it’s not just money. It’s stability of place, a feeling of belonging. I don’t feel it in the states anymore, and even after four winters of living in Montreal, I can’t say I feel it there either, not from the place, not from a person. I haven’t had a lover want me in a home, with them, for all the right reasons, in over a decade.
And so now, when I finally feel wanted like that, when I have pinned my planning charts on the dream of shacking up across the pond, Brexit is… a shock to me, more of a shock than I had expected. I question the stability of my would-be adopted homeland, I despair at the xenophobia unleashed by the referendum, I have to acknowledge, face in palm, that the UK is much less a polite society than I had thought… it is disheartening.
Now. I recognize how privileged I am, that my heart can even come into the equation. Money and resources are, for most people, the defining motivators for where they end up living and who they live with. I can’t claim any reasonable financial mobility, but white skin and education and network go a certain way toward keeping my head above water. And I suppose I’ve just become inured to the anxiety; it’s a low-to-medium background fear that I push through like a bulldozer. And passion, whether for performance or for my love, has always fueled that bulldozer much farther than one could reasonably expect.
But the bulldozer is running on fumes right now. I have slipped a little further down that scale of security. Hell, so has the entire UK. The world has been drifting down in despair for years and years, possibly for as long as there have been people on the top benefiting from people on the bottom.
We all want to be secure. That feels farther away than ever. At least… at least I am wanted.
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