So, y'all, i am drunk.
I was watching this BBC show called Scarborough, which is a slice of life thingy about people my age in some northern seaside town. It has that uniquely British characteristic of featuring unattractive stars who speak with unintelligible accents. When you figure out what the fuck they're saying it becomes clear that they are all talking utter nonsense. And i am like, okay, i get this crowd. I hate their fucking shit music. I hate their fucking shit pub. But i still get sitting there with a beer talking about nowt because work sucks and really there isn't anything better to do.
But then i am not in England, i am in China... The fucking country that when i left my office today i emerged into a swarm of armed police and a blanket ban of share bikes for kilometers around. My commuter vehicle is a share bike. Friends, i was absolutely fucking livid. This country is like living in a fucking prison right now, i swear to God.
Anyway, tangent! So i was thinking about how in some ways i really "get" England. And Scotland too, actually. Probably more Scotland. Just that kind of lifestyle. Go to the pub, get drunk, talk rubbish, walk home, yeah i get that. And then i remembered i am in China where there are no pubs like that, so to distract me i hacked my way through the Great Firewall to read the wiki page for Scarborough.
Turns out it really is a small town in northern England, but also it is the former site of Scarborough Fair, as made famous by the song Scarborough Fair (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme). So then i thought about how the whole fucking internet is blocked, but i still have my offline music library from the days when that was still a thing. And i have three Simon & Garfunkel albums ripped. They are in the "folk" category, along with KT Tunstall, Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman.
Oh. Yeah. Wait. Tracy Chapman. My drunk go-to. And, specifically, Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car". It makes me cry every time i hear it. Probably because the only times i've heard it since it was on the radio is when i am in this particular wistful drunken mood.
Friends, i do not have a working class background. As much as i hope to earn some working class cred by not being a total fucking wanker, i grew up pretty comfortably middle class. But this song speaks to me, oh lordy how it speaks to me. It's not just about the struggle of living on the poverty line, it's also about the naïve dream that moving somewhere else will be the solution to your problems.
And, yanno, that is the story of my life. Getting into relationships and hoping my partner would save me. Moving cities because i thought it would make a difference. Moving countries to find a better life. Spoiler: i never found it. Dear God, i'm almost 40. I'm still me. I've grown in some ways - hey, i'm not drunk on school nights any more - but in most ways i am as much a fuck-up as i was as a teen. Didn't grow. Don't think i really want to.
When i listen to Tracy Chapman i remember why for a very long time i thought that moving to America would be the answer to everything. I was so in love with America. I knew i had to move there, because in my heart i knew that was the country my dreams could come true.
They could, i suppose. Maybe they did. Those years with T were magical. But they were also "first love" years, so what else could they be?
I still authentically love the Californian central valley. My latest California porn show is Mayans M.C. Every shot that lingers on those barren hills makes me miss America with all the tiny pieces of my broken heart. When i am old i still hope to be able to snowbird in Nevada. Just sit there in some wasteland trailer park with only a cactus and tumbleweed for friends.
But America is also that shit country where sick and injured people literally go bankrupt because basic health care is not considered a human right. It's the country where not only government-sponsored thugs but also everyday people carry around guns like it ain't no thing. Children too young to drink or vote are expected to operate massive internal combustion vehicles traveling at a hundred miles an hour. America is fucking fucked.
And yet... there are aspects of America that i "get" better than anywhere in England or Scotland. I suppose even in this fascist shithole of a country that is China, there are also aspects of the lifestyle that i "get" better than anywhere in the west.
That's why i keep moving now, i think. I never really feel at home anywhere, because everywhere has things that suck. I'm always an alien. I pine for something that feels like it should be "home", but when i go there it turns out it's not really what i hoped, because of all the other things that i don't get.
I wonder if people who grew up in one place all their lives really have the sense that that place is truly "home"? When they see these shows or listen to these songs that describe the archetypical experience of a place, then they not only pine for it but can go back and slot in effortlessly. People who are never aliens, never outsiders.
Must be nice.
I "get" a lot of different things. But i know what i don't "get", and that's going home.
Home is bullshit.
I'll never go home. Don't have one. Never will. My happy place is not having a place.