“Guys.” I bolt back out of my bedroom and call to my housemates. “My laptop’s gone.”
So the last time it was my turn to post a blog, I wrote about my first week (first 3 days, really) in Cardiff, Wales and how it was an unpredictable, sometimes-fun-sometimes-overwhelming adventure. Well, the adventure didn’t end there.
My two housemates and I linger in the room, my eyes fixed on my blank desk while they scan the room.
“You didn’t leave it in the lounge? You didn’t put it away in your bag?”
My clothes are parted and rummaged-through. My phone charger is tangled on the bed. The US to UK outlet converter that I used for my laptop is on the floor.
My heart seizes in my chest.
“Call the police,” my housemate says. “Tell them they have to come here.”
So my laptop, among other things, was stolen. As my boyfriend prays for me over the phone, I notice my Bible, chucked to the floor. It was such a surreal experience – 2am, the Welsh policemen inspecting my bedroom, my housemates raising their eyebrows at each other because the policemen were attractive, apparently, I was a bit preoccupied…
“Did you need your laptop?” my dad asks over the phone.
Did I need it? Well, you don’t really need anything. But I don’t have a Smartphone so that’s the only way I can access emails, messages, this blog – my writing! When did I last back up my computer? I pray I saved my recent writing, my stories, my ideas…
C.S.I. Wales (no, seriously, that’s what they’re called) arrive the next day, dust my room, take my fingerprints, and make their exit.
“Honestly,” they say, “stolen property rarely gets found again.”
I learned in my literature and emotion class that disgust is fearing something touching you and getting to you, but at the same time knowing that it already has.
I sleep on a spare mattress in my housemate’s room and for the first time in a while, I feel like an international student.
I’m in a foreign country. My family is far away, I can’t just take a train to see them. It’s just me alone, me, myself, and I.
It hasn’t felt that way in years because of friends, Skype dates with my family, and people from church (like Savvy’s family). They make me forget. Then this happens and it’s like God is cackling in His mighty chair, saying, “Did you actually think you were no longer vulnerable?”
Even with my housemates hugging me and telling me it’s going to be okay, I still feel insecure, like someone could easily break in again. I worked hard for this sense of security. I spent the past 3 years gaining confidence in an unfamiliar culture, and in this new world of living apart from my parents. Now, it feels like that security has been damaged.
But the weekend ends and it’s back to work, back to my internship. My colleague asks me to design a creative writing project.
“What do you want it to have?”
He shrugs. “Anything. You decide.” When I draft up an idea and pitch it to him, he says, “Sounds good. We’ll get some fundraising for it.”
Later on in the week, he asks me if I’d like to lead a creative writing workshop.
“You’re giving me so much free rein,” I tell him. “You know I’m just an intern.”
This doesn’t faze him. As the internship progresses, I continue to have more empowering experiences. I perform my writing at a local pub, full of strangers. I share my writing with a multi-award-winning poet. I design creative writing projects to propose for funding. I go to a barbecue party where I only know two people, and then to a church service where I only know one. Next week, I might venture into a mining pit! I’m regaining my confidence, my sense of security, through everyday adventures.
But I don’t want to rely on my self-confidence, on myself, because I know another instance like this could happen and I could easily be destabilized again. That’s just the fragile, emotional human that I am. I can’t trust that my confidence will always be there.
One evening, I read Psalm 68:6 that says, “God sets the lonely in families,” and I knew that it’s true for me. I’ve had so much support and comfort from people I know in Norwich, in America, and even here in Cardiff. My brother called from New York even though international calls cost loads on his phone. A guy I only recently met in person here told me to call him if I ever need anything. My housemates rope me into movie nights (“Magic Mike?”) and pub outings for Eurocup (“England versus Wales…”). I’m being kept busy, distracted, but also reminded to count my blessings. Because at this point in my life, I know I can’t trust in my confidence, but I can trust in God.
So don’t worry about me, Savvy. I’m as happy as a crab!
Big love, Rachel