i had no intention of writing this and i had no intention of this coming out in this form, but based on some conversations that i’ve had this just kind of happened. a friend of mine asked me yesterday about why i love all things “quintessentially British” and this is, among other things, what i sent him:
My love of all things “quintessentially British”. Ahhhh the Million dollar question. Please. Pull up a chair. Put the kettle on. To make a long and not particularly interesting story short….my grandparents were South African born Englishmen [English persons?] and my mum was born in Northern Rhodesia while it was still under crown rule. My family prior to that is from London and [my best guess] Manchester. Grandfather supported Arsenal, as did I up until I was about 5 when he and my mother had a bit of an argument and that turned into MANCHESTER UNITED FOR YOU. And that was that. He eventually got over it and taught me the history of the club, about the game, and all of the important things. We watched rugby and cricket and football together…he even let me take him to a match: United v Barcelona in 2003. My dad was in the US navy so he was away often and as my mother raised me, I was raised English: tea, cakes, St George’s Day, Boxing day, Day Month Year, metric over imperial, spelling things correctly and all of that. Let’s just say that when I was in primary school, it made things very interesting when we transferred from Italy to the US. When they were singing the National Anthem, I just…stood there. When they were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance…i just stood there, quietly and respectfully of the other students, but I never joined in. I have never felt connected to this country. For as long as I can remember, I have always referred to Americas as “them” and the English as “we”. I have more friends in England than I have here. When I moved back to the US from France in 2004, I thought that I was going to be moving back to the UK after I graduated. Eight years and another degree later, I’m starting the process all over again. If I haven’t set down roots in eight years [no husband, no kids, no relationship, no real friends to speak of and no real sense of belonging] then it isn’t to be and I need to be where I belong. I originally thought that it was my wanting and needing to not be in America made me psychologically shut off to any sort of settling here, but I have finally realised that I truly don’t belong here. I never bought in to “MURIKAH!! WE’RE NUMBER ONE. USA! USA! USA! [which, as an aside, is really bizarre because my mother LOVES it here, so much so that she gave up her British citizenship. I don’t understand it.]” If I had any sort if inclination to try to force a sense of belonging, that was killed off when I went back to Europe in October. In the five weeks I was gone, I realised how dreadful and rude and cretinous Americans are and how much I don’t miss them. That was when I knew…
what strikes me out of all of this is the fact that i never set down roots in america. i tried. i really did, but it didn’t work. it’s like the universe is telling me that i don’t belong here. that much i already knew. that i find more interesting is the feeling that i had when i was in Manchester in October. i hadn’t been to Manchester since 2003, but when i was there in october, it was as if i had never been away. i was walking down Deansgate Road towards Spinningfields and i felt like i belonged. like i had lived there my entire life. mike garry has a blog called god is a manc and he wrote a poem for Manchester United’s Made of Manchester campaign called The Threads That Weave:
This is manchester. this is MY Manchester. everything that he writes, i get. i understand it. i feel it in my soul. the titular poem…he talks about things and places and i knows them. i feel them. this is the city that i love, football or not. this is where i feel alive. i’ve applied for another position there at a job doing something similar to what i was doing with Island Def Jam. so if anyone prays, please pray for me. and if anyone doesn’t, spare a good thought in my direction. i need this job.
i want to feel whole again. i’m homesick and i just want to go home.