Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Au revoir, Angleterre, and thanks for the well good year

Note: This blog entry sufficiently meets the criteria to qualify as a slog.
Additional note: See previous blog entry for explanation and further discussion of slogs.

I’m trying to reflect on my year in England and reach some sort of personal conclusion to help me move on with the next chapter of my life. But as far as activities go, reminiscing seems to be one of the more cliché ridden.

Time went by so fast.

As I look back at my ten months in England, that is about the most profound thought that I can muster. Here, let me try again.

England and the US are different.

Yes, that is true. Maybe a little more specific, Nate?

England is older than the US.

I did see many old buildings in England and observed and even participated in a few old traditions, so I can see where I was coming from with that one. But while England is older than the US in terms of nation state formation, it is not necessarily true in geological terms. It might be. I have no idea, actually. In cosmic terms they’re probably about the same age. Sometimes thinking in cosmic terms comforts me. Sometimes thinking in cosmic terms sends a shiver down my backside and keeps me up at night. Let’s move on.

I am not the same person now that I was when I left.

That is not only a cliché, but a bit of a tautology, too. Of course I’m not the same person. I am ten months older. Ten months of life experiences. Ten months of coffee stains on my teeth. Ten months nearer to my death (at least in terms of a strictly linear perspective of time, and unlike cosmic terms, strictly-linear-perspective-of-time terms don’t seem to ever comfort me). Let’s try again.

England is larger than the US.

Now that one is just an outright lie. Wait. In terms of geography or population, clearly not true. But in terms of fish and chips per capita, England is probably larger than the US. Or in terms of, say, casual conversational usage of the word “well” as an adverb (as in “That party was ace, but I was well tired this morning” or “Did you see that speech by HM the Queen when she opened that new administrative building in Bristol? She was well cheeky”). Okay, maybe I should just try one about how I’m feeling.

It is strange to be back.

That one doesn’t strike me as a cliché per se, but it still presents a problem because how I’m feeling is a bit more complicated than those six words might suggest. It is strange that the routine and life that I’d come to know in England has ended forever, but being back in itself isn’t strange. It is intensely normal. For better or worse, I seem to have immediately settled back into the same way of being with my friends. Which is nice. Comforting. But if I felt like being cynical, I might express some worry about the fact that it was so easy for me to occupy the same old role. Does that mean I haven’t changed? Haven’t grown? Maybe. But maybe ten months just isn’t that long a time and with email and Skype maybe the Atlantic just isn’t that big. Maybe. Then again, maybe I’ve changed in ways that are significant even though I can’t articulate them right now. Maybe those ten months of staining my teeth with English coffee (or, more accurately, South American or African coffee prepared in England) and the conversations that accompanied that staining will manifest themselves in subtle ways. Maybe in expecting some sort of tangible sense of self-progression my thinking is stuck in strictly-linear-perspective-of-life terms. Perhaps there are more useful terms with which to think about my life. Or maybe the search for a conclusion to anything is in itself inherently prone to cliché. Maybe. But all the same, this slog has dragged on long enough so I think some sort of conclusion would just be the courteous thing to do at this point. Okay. Let’s give it one more shot.

It was a well good year.

I’m pretty sure that is an inappropriate use of “well”, but it will have to do. If I have used it incorrectly, then this might be the first occurrence of the phrase, “It was a well good year.” In endeavoring to avoid speaking in cliché, possibly breaking the rules of colloquial grammar is a risk I’m willing to take.


suzanne said...

You summed up a larger-than-life year as brilliantly as a single blog post could contain. I felt every bit of your words when I moved back from my 7-month stay in England. The first thing I noticed was how loud and obnoxious the American accents in radio ads are. The second thing I noticed was I didn't have to write the date before the month anymore. The third thing I noticed was that my own accent had soften to the point where I couldn't properly order a "chalupa." And the fourth thing I noticed was nothing, because I was back home in familiar territory and most of everything was as I left it.

Readjusting shocks at first, then it slips back into the numbness of routine. But you won't be able to stop sentences tumbling from your mouth that begin with "Well, back in England..." Don't block those sentences altogether, but do try to control them. I did this for years afterwards, mostly because I still had a boyfriend back there but also because a piece of England migrated back with me, wishing to replicate itself to unsuspecting Yanks so the British Empire would rise again.

Well, we can welcome their music, their TV, their sense of humo(u)r and their David Beckhams... but the place is here, the moment is now, and your and my feet are now on America's soil. Carpe diem.

cinky ho said...

welcome to blogspot! as you end your year abroad, so i am starting mine. and ask you start your blog here, so i am starting a new one elsewhere. the new one is: travelsofadodo.wordpress.com

cuidate, and saludos from peru.

icarus said...

hi Nate!

you should check out this blog - written by some of your classmates - http://quenczine.blogspot.com

hope you stop by!

icarus said...

oops - the correct URL is http://quenchzine.blogspot.com

cinky ho said...

mr nate: peru is rife with what people call chifa restaurants. in short, there is rice and spice aplenty. i hear that the chinatown in nyc is better though... :) you gotta try the vegetarian dim sum place on canal. its amazing and beastie boys and le tigre members alike frequent the restaurant. south america misses you. okay fine, i do too. please update your blog past entry #2. dude always,--cindy

Coxy said...

Hey Nate, I randomly stumbled upon your blog after watching some of your youtube videos. As a girl from England, I would just like to reassure you that "it was a well good year" is a perfectly acceptable use of our terrible English grammer, I say 'well good' all the time, much to the repulsion of my (correct grammer) 'well spoken' friends.

Hope this reassures you, and if your ever visiting the UK again to do stand up or whatever, let us know!


ps. I loved your film review format for Dark Knight! The moral dilema and realistic-ness of the outcome in the film is perfect coffee conversation!