The last time I wrote here was on June 1st. That’s right, another blog post a month and a half later! Unheard of!
When I wrote I was anxious because everything was up in the air or, anyway, two things.
But those things were as follow:
1) I’d applied for Edinburgh Fringe in January and still hadn’t heard anything back; &, infinitely more importantly,
2) I’d applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR; permanent residency) at the beginning of February, and was waiting to hear back about that.
The spiel was, with varying (but always present) levels of anxiety: there’s no reason why they should say no, I just had to prove I could support myself and I do, I sent in the most beautiful application… etc., etc. Panic all the time, basically.
It’s a weird thing to have your entire beautiful, wonderful, dream life up in the air. The idea of losing everything you know and love is hard to get past, and trying to use logic against the fear doesn’t work. I’m a very anxious person as it stands. I just didn’t know what was going to happen. I’d make plans for the future and my brain would always put an asterisk next to them. “If I’m still here.”
And then on June 11th I got a venue for Edinburgh Fringe!!!
Which was exciting and a huge relief, of course. But of course that felt very conditional. I was happy to have a venue, but if my request for ILR was declined then I wouldn’t be able to do it anyway. I would hear back by the 6th of August at the latest.
It buoyed me up, anyway, to have a real reason to work on my show. I made a poster…
… and flyers…
(Sidenote: I really like Photoshop. Also, photos by the glorious Victor Pãtrãşcan.)
… and I got way more into working on my show than I had been up to then. I was lucky enough to get some really helpful feedback from a number of comics I admire, which helped hugely and gave me the direction I was definitely missing.
And now it’s July!
I knew I should find out what was happening with my ILR really soon. So it was back to being on my mind near-constantly. I would try to imagine what it’d feel like if it all worked out. I’d try to figure out backup plans for if it didn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong: in spite of all the anxiety and downright terror, I’ve been enjoying my life a lot lately. I’ve had lots of post-work drinks with friends, I’ve really enjoyed gigging, I’ve gone swimming in the ladies’ pond at Hampstead Heath a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been much better at making plans and being sociable, rather than being shy and not wanting to bother people as can be my way. I’ve been really, really happy. And I think there is a link there: I needed to make the most out of everything, just in case it all went badly wrong.
Nothing could be a bigger deal to me than staying here, and to a certain degree it was out of my control.
I don’t like not being in control.
When I first applied for my visa to live here, I couldn’t imagine why they could possibly say yes. I do try to be a positive person, but I’m very guarded. I want to be emotionally prepared for the worst case scenario so I can’t get as hurt by it, I guess. And I’ve always struggled with self-esteem issues (surprise!!). When I was waiting to hear back about my ancestry visa I’d have anxiety dreams in which I was told I wasn’t good enough to live the life I’d wanted so badly for so long.
On March 1st, 2013, when I got the email reading “Your UK visa has been issued”, I was initially excited and then my guard went up and I wondered what that meant, was that definitely a yes, or…?
And if that sounds absolutely ridiculous… it is. Of course it meant I’d been approved. No, they hadn’t sent the wrong email.
Edinburgh is coming up really soon. Tomorrow is two weeks until I take the train up there. I’m sharing a flat with other comedians and performers, rather than staying in an Airbnb like I have the last two years. My show runs for thirteen days, starting on the 13th, but I’ll be there the whole time doing odd jobs and getting as much stage time as possible (I’ve managed to book spots at all kinds of varied gigs, including a panel show; a storytelling show; a show where acts read their teenage diaries; & a silly game show), and basically just living the life, because Edinburgh is my favourite thing. Which I think is a bit of an unpopular statement with comics, but it’s what I feel for now. It might not be forever. But with it coming up so soon, I’m incredibly excited. Asterisk.
I woke up yesterday morning and, knowing I had a lot of work to do on my show and that I’d promised myself I’d dedicate the day exclusively to that, I opted not to look at my phone or my computer until I was ready to get out of bed. So I didn’t. Then eventually I sat up in bed, ready to face the day, and looked at my phone. Checked my emails.
But what did it mean? Was that a yes, or…? (If that sounds absolutely ridiculous, of course it is.)
I tried to remain calm, continue on with what I’d intended to do. I made myself a coffee. I worked on my show. I listened to His n’ Hers by Pulp because of course I did. During Pink Glove, the doorbell rang. I signed for the delivery, went inside, sat on the living room floor, opened the envelope, and cried a little tiny bit from relief.
Leslie Ewing-Burgesse: Permanent Resident
Leslie Ewing-Burgesse: Ain’t Going Nowhere
Leslie Ewing-Burgesse: Time To Accept This Is Your Life And It’s Really Fucking Good
Leslie Ewing-Burgesse: Reprogram Your Brain Not To Expect Things To Fall Apart All The Time Because, Hey, Maybe They Won’t!
I haven’t worked out how to describe how I feel about all this yet. Absolutely thrilled, obviously. Unbelievably relieved. The five years I was living here on my ancestry visa came with an expiry date.
There isn’t an expiry date anymore.
Get used to me, London, because I’m stayin’.