Saturday, March 21, 2009

Life Takes You Strange Places... And You Can't Always Talk About It

Yes, that title is a quote from Watchmen. For anyone who hasn't seen the film or read the graphic novel, I highly recommend both.

I've discovered that England has no shortage of self-involved narcissists and mixed-signal senders, and dirty bearded men in camo jackets who eat sandwiches out of rubbish bins. Despite all this, I've still managed to make some meaningful connections while I've been here. Friends fo' life. It's a nice feeling, to be so far away from everything I know and still to gouge a few trenches of familiarity in the streets of this foreign city. The corner pub and the tube stops that echo with my name. Etching myself into civic memory.

Sometimes I try to etch against surfaces too hard for my chisel. Helas, I need to learn to quit while I'm ahead. A London word I picked up recently is 'long.' It means not worth the effort. As in "longshot." In America we preach the value of persistence. In England they think that most things aren't worth the bother; it's better to leave well enough alone.

I'm not sure which philosophy I prescribe to more at the moment. But I think the passive British mindsit doesn't sit well with my natural boldness. Perhaps I don't quite feel American all the time, but I've soaked up the pioneering spirit somehow, in my two decades of residence in the USA. Sure, Americans are forward, but is there anything wrong with that?

Cheers peeps,
Ali

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