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writing therapy
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amw
I keep writing about this over the years, this fixation i have with America. I'm not sure when it started creeping, but i know it came into strong focus when my parents divorced. One trigger for the divorce had been mom visiting Cleveland to attend her sister's wedding - i guess it made her think hard about her own marriage. When it collapsed she went on a few trips to Canada, ostensibly for work but also to visit friends (dad says she had a romance there, mom says she didn't, i don't even care). Mom brought back all these photos of beautiful places. She talked about possibly moving up there - to Canada or the US - and that got a strange fire burning inside me.

I guess it had been kindled earlier, living in the British Army. The Americans were our staunchest allies against the Russians, so i grew up with a lot of respect for them (or the president and military at least). Living on an army base in Germany we weren't really exposed to any English-speaking culture outside of school. The British Forces TV station broadcast a lot of shows and the two i remember most vividly are Airwolf and The A-Team - good shows for a military audience. And very American. One day i accidentally gave some kid a blood nose running round the school yard humming The A-Team theme tune. I wanted to fight Communists too.

But fast-forwarding a few years again we lived in New Zealand and my parents had just separated. That was the event that finally triggered my childhood spiral into darkness because they were so busy hating each other that i felt abandoned. I had all kinds of weird shit happen that i realize now was probably severe anxiety, or early bipolar. I eventually realized i could deal with it by withdrawing. I'd always been an avid reader, but coming to New Zealand where i was already ostracized for being English i threw myself into it completely. I was reading adult sci-fi by the age of 10 or 11. I especially loved the near-future post-apocalypse or cyberpunk stuff. Most of it was set in America, some fucked up version of it. I particularly remember Philip K Dick, Patrick Tilley and Kim Stanley Robinson. I think Kim Stanley Robinson made me fall in love with California. I manically collected magazine clippings with photos of America and wrote out quotes from books and dreamed some day i'd be there living these crazy futures i read about. Later i discovered Marvel comics too, and that just fed the fire.

I visited for my first time in 1993 when we left New Zealand to move back to Europe. I was already heartbroken mom had decided to abandon her plans of moving to North America. Spending a week in San Francisco en route was like a dream come true, and leaving it was devastating. I had only fallen deeper in love, you see. And since then it's just progressed, this crazy obsession that won't quit. When i'm feeling spiritual i feel it's like i'm meant to be there, that there must be some kind of deeper calling that's created this passion in me. What else could explain it, right? Surely it isn't just a childhood escape that metastasized out of control. It's so fucking central to my being i can't imagine life any other way. And it's those things, those core emotions that define me and make me feel like that's the reason i'm here. I just get impatient when it keeps not happening. Impatient and sad. My faith fluctuates with my moods.

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as someone who's lived in the US my entire life, I can't fathom the attraction. it's pretty much exactly how it's described on south park. some cities like NY and SF are nicer, but there's so much ick in the middle.

Then again, I might have been almost as obsessed with moving to NYC, but didn't face any immigration obstacles, so I never had the verbotenism to make it purttier.

Yeah, i have yet to venture into the boondocks, unless you count California east of the coastal ranges. That city/country divide is true of most places in the world, though, probably even more so in Canada and Australia than the US because there's just that much more nothing in between. I guess where i'm at now it's almost like i'd rather go and be disappointed than continue to spend my life longing. At least maybe then it'd be out of my system.

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