Sunday, May 11, 2008

Finished

I think I'm done with London for now. I still have two and a half days...but I'm done now. I'm an outsider...as much as I tried to be an insider...I was always living in someone else's house, using someone else's things, hanging out with someone else's friends.

Liam and I went to Brighton yesterday, and it was lovely. The best part about it was that it made me want to be back in Midtown more than anything. I KNOW I'm in England and doing all these things that a lot of people never get to do...and that's great, and I'm grateful, but it's been nearly six months...and, the truth is...England never really had that much faith in me. I've always been an American trying to fit into an English lifestyle. I've always been a bit of a sore thumb. I recall a moment a few weeks ago when I was joking with Liam's friends about someone commenting to me that I had to admit that America didn't have all that much culture. I recounted this moment in my 'isn't that crazy' voice, and I was met with blank stares. I was expecting similar 'that is ridiculous' laughs in response...but there was only silence and blank stares. I'm in a sea of smugness. I have never encountered more talk of 'openmindedness' without a single shred of action to match the words. Don't get me wrong...I know MANY Americans with this same 'i don't get your point' attitude, but people here pretend like those Americans are stupid...when really, they're all in the same damn club.

I opened my mind. I moved my body and my soul to this place. I tried to fit in. I'm not saying I was stellar at it. I wasn't. I complained a great deal, and my body struggled to adjust to its new mold. I ran into many walls and fell on my behind many times. I didn't wish any ill will on anyone in this...I've never felt like other countries were stupid and behind the times. But my mind is changing. People that sit in their own stymied pile of self-satisfaction are behind the times. I do it sometimes...and being snapped into reality can be very embarrassing, but I'm not saying I'm not open to it...or not aware of the fact that it needs to and will happen many times in my life.

Six months isn't really long enough to make a house a home. I feel like it was my trial period. I feel like that is what was expected of me. I sometimes feel like a failure until I remind myself that I was only here for six months. I lived in Memphis for over 18 years before I really felt like it was my true home. Life doesn't move as fast as some people would like it to. Love doesn't fit into the packaging that one might expect. I gave it. Perhaps my package was wrapped in old newspapers and filled with a lot of things he didn't want, but I gave it to him...and underneath it all there was love...and I ran out of time. I didn't move fast enough. I didn't fit into the mold right away. It was hard...but I always had faith. Oh ye of little faith. Little faith in me.

9 comments:

amycita said...

i was surprised at how easy it was to defend american culture when i was abroad. someone made a similar comment to me in a bar in barcelona and without thinking, i was like, "no american culture? ever heard of jazz? the harlem renaissance? ernest hemingway? ROCK 'N' ROLL, YOU CRAZY EUROPEAN SNOB?!"

if i were in britain when confronted with this situation, i would probably play on the british fear that the rest of europe doesn't really regard them as european enough. "oh, yeah, america has no culture. same for england. if only we could be more cultured like those *truly* european countries, france and spain." also, i wouldn't be able to resist pointing out that american breakfast trumps english breakfast any day of the week.

Nancy Caroline said...

Lets talk about English bacon for one thing...Back Bacon...I know some of you are veggies...but I'm not and I eat bacon...back bacon pretty much tastes like a pile of greasy salt. I'm sorry...but it had to be said. And you don't need beans on EVERYTHING. AND...pancakes are not crepes...they are pancakes...little cakes made in a pan..served with maple syrup. THE END.

diana said...

no, NOT the end.

you know what kills me? all these english people slamming america's lack of culture, and you know what they come over here to see? you know what 99% of english people I wait on at the downtown hotel 3 blocks away from the civil rights museum, 3 miles from sun studios, 2 inches from the rock and soul museum, the gibson factory, WC Handy's house and the hunt-phelan home, a short walk to the orpheum, mud island, the riverwalk, the cotton museum, the mississippi river museum, and ernestine and hazel's come to see?

Graceland.

Vanessa said...

we should go all around Europe and just make a lot of farting noises and belch loudly. f**k 'em, it's FUNNY.

Anonymous said...

two and half days. i'd better clean up.

sincerely,
Brett

anna said...

the next time i am abroad, i am going to tell all the euro-snobs that my nickname is "back bacon."
just cause.

diana said...

dear brett:

don't use an epilady. but clean up nonetheless.

love,
diana

Anonymous said...

When my husband came back from Afghanistan the first thing he wanted to do was hit Shoney’s Breakfast Buffett. Maybe we should make plans . . . then you can have all the real bacon, normal pancakes, and every other bad-for-you-breakfast-item you want. :)

~megan

vylica.8 said...

right f-king on, Caroline Allen!

we would have taken up for Liam (or for any visitor from another country) in a heartbeat, had the shoe been on the other foot. because we (you and your group of friends) are aware of our own ethnocentrism and try to overcome it. plus, we have good ol' fashion compassion. i may not always exercise my "put-yourself-in -other-folks-shoes" skills, like when i'm around southern baptists, for example. but i try. i'm "open" to it, as you mentioned.

i realize that among certain circles it's fashionable to (verbally) oppose U.S. politics, but these chaps are really outdoing themselves. now we have no culture at all? gimme a bloody break. any sensible, free-thinking person should be able to distinguish between a country's government and its people/culture.

do they want to get off their arses and lend a hand to make the world better? no. they're content to stay holed up in their hypocrisy and prejudice, taking cheap shots at the scapegoat.

ALSO: the blues, R&B soul, soul food, bluegrass, honky tonk, hip hop, basketball, baseball, breakdancing, swing dancing, Hollywood, the sundae, root beer float, PB & J sandwiches, doughnuts, chips, COCA COLA- had to be said...