19 August 2010

Come out Screaming

Temperature: 27c/80f

Here I am at Parentshome. Parentshome is less hot than WhereIlive, but not by much: it's like going out of the fire and into the frying pan. I'm afraid it's also marginally more boring. There's simply nothing for me to do here, since it's not my home, none of my friends live here anymore, and it's in a suburb (neither a city nor a village). My parents are here, however, and it's good to spend time with them. I'm even managing not to fight with my mother, by dint of a good deal of behavioural control. I know that's not very nice to say, but my mother and I are very different now, and that makes for all sorts of problems.

I think, though, that this visit to Parentshome is quite good in one respect: I'm easing myself back into the States. If I'd stayed in WhereIlive this week, I would have gone into my department, seen people, and been quickly immersed into Being In The States. I don't think that would have been good. This way, although I am experiencing the States again, I'm doing it as if I were on holiday (which I am), and that's much better (although there has already been some crying. It was very short, however).

So here is what I've learned about America so far: it's really big. And there is way too much stuff. Of course America is a huge country, but I find it very interesting the way Americans take this hugeness for granted. Coming from Otherhome, I'm genuinely disconcerted by the lavishness of the quotidian here. First of all, buildings and spaces are HUGE, and that hugeness isn't shown off or emphasized for effect: it's just a fact. You wander through vast spaces to shop, to get off a plane, to take a walk, to drive, and to me it's just weird (although also familiar and comfortable, which makes it even more weird). And then there is simply so much stuff. At the shoe store (a relatively small shoe store) you can pick from ten variations on the same style of boot; at the clothing store you can pick from racks and racks and racks of clothes. I wouldn't say this is obscene, but it is intensely disturbing to me. It seems to me as if these things have just been disgorged out onto the floor, vomited out without restraint or care. In Otherhome I had what I thought was a lot - too many clothes for my closet - and I saw what I thought was a lot - twenty styles of shoe, enough packaged food to feed a militia - but it turns out I have become an amateur in a lot.

This is one of the top reasons I'll leave. I can't take this much a lot.

The one unmitigated joy (and there was a lot of it, too!) of coming to Parentshome, is that I did indeed go to New York to see Jennifer. It was super fun! We went to the Russian Tea Room, where we didn't get the Tootsie booth (they were filming something top secret in the room where the booth was), but we did get to see the giant rotating bear with fish inside, and to admire the waiters' lovely frock coats, and to catch up over a giant tea neither of us could finish. Then we wandered around Manhattan for five hours, including a visit to an excellent exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and a delighted hour in a (giant) drugstore. Although there are many good things about Jennifer, there are two really good things about her: she is always funny, and when we're together it's as if we've never been apart. So we talked and talked and talked, and on my part pretty much completely caught up. And it was delightful.

Today is my father's birthday. Tomorrow is the day I arranged to stay after my father's birthday. The day after that I'm going back to WhereIlive. And then, I suspect, real life will begin.


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rabbitreader said...

I just stumbled on your blog, and I hope you come off hiatus soon. I live in Texas -- the biggest in their own minds -- but I am originally from Pennsylvania. I was struck by your comment about the obscene amount of choices Americans have in everything from shoes to hats, from breakfast cereal to breakfast bars, and EVERYTHING in between. You might not call it obscene, but I surely do! It disturbs me, as does the arrogance and mean spirited nature of Americans today. This is not the country I grew up in, and most certainly not the country where I want to spend my final days. I have been saying for years, "I do not want to die in Texas." Only a good job holds me here, and thanks to the greedy pigs of the top 1%, mobility and job changes are few and far between, and risky. But as I near retirement, I am looking way beyond these shores. I am an English Professor at a small liberal arts college, and rural England really appeals to me. Well, no one might ever read this, but I hope you do, and I hope you come back and pick up where you left off. --Chiron


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