Three years ago, I was living in sunny Vienna.
As I grow older, my memories of times and places merge into a sense of feeling. These memories feel deeply personal and yet, oddly detached. When I think of Vienna, I remember the incessant summer heat and numerous nightclubs, severe depression and waking up at 3pm almost daily, certain reprieves of normality when family came to visit, but then binge watching American TV shows in my cold room with the windows closed. I remember feeling even more alone and lonely at this time. This was a horrific secret when I was in my dream city in a beautiful summer. I have never seen Vienna in the snow.
I was lucky to study French and German at the time that I did, in the era that I did. When the ERASMUS scheme gave us €3000 just for studying abroad, and where I had the opportunity to discover other cities and towns and find out what I did like and what I didn’t. This was a time that €400 would get you a beautiful room in one of Vienna’s nicest districts. I used to walk past the President of Austria’s flat when I went to the shops. Is this seen as an advantage to people, or exasperating self indulgence?
I can’t afford to travel anymore. I’m lucky if I break even each month. The time of flittering around Europe hasn’t ended abruptly, but the door has closed further and further, and now I can’t really turn back. But surely, with Brexit, I could have spent the last year preparing to leave this little island? I have a Swedish mother and a degree in foreign languages. Why have I chosen to live in a country that has rejected the institution that shaped me into the person I am?
As Brexit blunders on and on, the country I was once so proud of changes.
“I love Vienna and Sweden,” I used to proclaim, “But England is my home”.
And so I remain.