J

PhotosWritingRise Above The StormKojey Radical - 23 WintersJournal - Short FilmHigh Art - Artwork

hello@jermainecraig.com

Learning to leave somewhere

I’ve lived in London most of my life. Throughout my early twenties I’ve had this subtle depression and understanding that I’m not 100% happy about my life in London, and any future I could hope to have in London. I always said to myself I didn’t fit in. I never agreed with the weather, I never agreed with the work culture, and I never agreed with youth culture I was a part of. I think that was the hardest part about living in London, I never agreed with the ideals of the young generation I was a part of. I couldn’t enjoy partying, whilst being pushed out of the city. I couldn’t pretend everything was OK, whilst I spent all my time and potential working to pay rent, bills, parking tickets and everything else that comes with being a Londoner. I always told myself I wouldn’t die in London. I had a solid image of what a perfect day in my future life would look like. I’d be on a boat in crystal clear water, with my wife, kids, and a dog, eating tropical fruits, laughing, reading, discussing. I didn’t know where this would happen, but I knew it wasn’t in the UK.

I fought for a long time to fit in, in London. I thought I could achieve this by dressing a specific way, going to specific events, listening to a certain type of music. I jumped in and out of different industries trying to find a space that felt right, from technology to music. The only place I could exist peacefully was in my own head.

I spent some time in San Francisco for work, thinking about a possible move over. I also traveled to other cities. It was the same feeling, and maybe a little worse that London. I was never all in on either city’s style of doing things. I got back to London and accepted my fate. I’d feel like this anywhere I go to, and should start trying to build a life for myself in London. So I rented an apartment, and had enough money to live well above average. That was supposed to be everything I needed. The feeling didn’t go away, no matter how much I earned or owned. This is where it got scary. I had everything a 23 year old would want, but I felt like I had nothing at all. Over the 6 months I spent a lot of my evenings bored out of my mind watching shows on Netflix and Amazon prime.

One evening I came across a show called ‘Mad Dogs’, which is set in Belize. A group of friends travel out to Belize, and get entangled in a crazy story of drugs, murder, and more. My life was so boring at this point, that I became engrossed in the story and wished it was my own. One day I made a decision to move to Belize. I didn’t want to visit. I didn’t want to take a vacation. I wanted to completely change my life. I wanted it be uncomfortable, and I didn’t want a way back. I almost wanted to punish myself for being so passive about my life so far.

As time went on, I researched Belize with more intensity and set off on a roller-coaster of encouragement and discouragement. Some days I was totally excited about the prospect of making the move, and other days I felt like I was throwing away everything I’d worked for. A month before I was set to fly out, I looked around my apartment, I looked out of the window, and I was terrified. What if I don’t like it in Belize, and decide to come back? I’ll have nothing to come back to. I panicked and called my sister. I knew she didn’t want me to leave, so she’d be the perfect person to talk me out of going.

Over the duration of the call I managed to talk my self out of going. I emailed the lettings agency and told them I’d like to extend my lease for another 6 months. I can’t remember how I felt. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. I just felt like I wouldn’t be losing anything anymore. The next morning I received an email back from the lettings agency. They wanted me to transfer £1250 within the next 3 days, plus three additional fees that didn’t really make any sense. I felt it again. I was at the receiving end of the corporate fraud you have to learn to deal with living in London.

I let them know that I wanted a lot more time, and also wanted to drop the rent all the way down to £800. I realised I was subconsciously trying to sabotage any hopes of the lease getting renewed. Interestingly they dropped the fees, and went lower on the rent, but I understood that my decision was made the minute I tried to sabotage the renewal. I didn’t want my life to continue along that path. I responded “Let’s forget about the renewal, it’s not worth it”. I also stopped responding to emails that would set me up financially for the upcoming months. A wave of happiness hit me as I made the final decision to go, and shut down my laptop. I lived with the decision for the following weeks, and my excitement grew every single day. The decision was re-affirmed everyday leading up to my flight.

Weeks later I crossed over the Mexico / Belize border and I smiled as soon as I saw the Belizean people. The smile remains to this day.

Now I sit here in Placencia village and I’m happy. I thought I felt happiness before, but It’s nothing compared to this. The sun wakes me up every morning at 5.30am. I walk to get breakfast and meet 3 to 4 friends on the way, everyday. We greet, and stop for conversation. I tell them what I have planned for the day, they tell me what they have planned for the day, and we both wish each other a good day. How can you have a bad day, when you start it with that much love?

I feel like I have aunties and uncles, little brothers and sisters, big brothers and sisters. I sit down and get advice from the older men and women in the village. I run around with the young kids in the village. It’s a tight knit community, everyone looks out for everyone. I’ve been here for 2 weeks. I send journals back to my friends every morning, they’re filled with crazy stories, and it’s now taking me an hour or two to write each journal. I spend my days outside, working on my laptop, helping people out in the community, hanging with friends. I spend my evenings partying, grabbing dinner by the beach, or staring up at the stars.

I love all the kids in the village, they’re beautiful. For the first time I feel a strong desire to invest my time and money into building things for the community. I don’t want a return. I just want to see the kids enjoying these things. I eat so many free breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and I buy them for my friends too. I feel like I’ll never go without food or shelter here. In the space of two weeks, I’ve eaten out with more people than I had in that last 2 years I spent in London. After everyone’s done with work, we go to the beach, smoke a joint and take in the view, or we explore the Peninsula. We can boat out and see the beautiful Cayes that surround us, and their marine life. I’m planning on swimming with a whale shark sometime soon. I’ve been warmly welcomed into the community. A community that pulls together to raise money to send kids to college, or help a resident open up a store. I live in paradise now, and all it took was a decision to leave London.

I’ve just signed the lease on my new home here for the time-being. It’s a 2 bedroom house, 1 minute walk away from the beach, and I found out one of my good friends will be my new neighbor. It’s far from the prettiest place in the world, but I wouldn’t trade it for a penthouse suite in the center of London.

Sometimes you have to stop trying to fit it, and move to a place that fits you. My life is completely different than it was 3 weeks ago. Everything I see is completely different, everything I feel is completely different. If I have to completely change it again, I will. Right now Belize agrees with me, and I agree with Belize.

If you ever visit, make sure you come to Placencia Village, and reach out to me.

Written 08.09.2016