It’s Independence Day here in America. I’ve been spending a lot of time here over the last three years or so, what with having an American girlfriend and all, and I must say I really do have a lot of love for the country and its people. The British and Americans have that stupid ‘special relationship’ which seems to me to be the same language and a seething resentment for each other but I think most people from either country, once we get past the stereotypes, will enjoy the other’s. That does not mean, however, either country is without faults. Britain is in the throes of some serious existential crises currently and it is costing lives. Being British though I feel much too close to give a proper appraisal of the situation. In America, however, I’m in a unique position to be very close to it yet from a different culture which gives me a slightly more ‘arms-length’ view of the nation. Consequently, after President T*umps election I felt compelled to write something about an outsider’s perspective on the United States. So just before last Christmas I put together a long essay about America’s own existential crisis it is living through but without mentioning the current President. At the time I had just been to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell as well as purchasing my own copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, all of which had profound effect on me. I was aiming at something like Paine’s ‘Common Sense’ (obviously not as good or as impactful but a Brit commenting on the issues facing the Nation’s survival as an Independent Union) in that it is indeed polemical but hopefully poetic too. It’s too long to be submitted to any magazine and no publisher seems particularly interested in a 30 page essay so I sent it to a few close friends out of the blue and received largely positive feedback. It’s been 7 months or so and I don’t think its going to see ‘proper’ print so I decided, on this July 4th, to post it here. Pdf below.
America is a great country with a remarkable foundation. The Constitution is the modern blueprint for how to found a Nation and that intellect wins over brute force every time. I really do have a lot of love for America despite its issues (stop being racist and get rid of your guns are the main ones I think) and would love to spend more time here. Every country is going through a difficult time right now and the USA is no exception. I don’t pretend to know the answers but I think I can see what the problem is. So Happy Birthday, America, may there be many more to come.
Now get rid of the orange twerp.
I got back from America a week ago.
I miss the hiss of white noise drowning out the clatter and clang of a bakery next door. I miss the disappearing horizon through a mist of wind blown sand. I miss a hug from a new friend and different person everyday. I miss the flatness and clean arrangement of the towns. I miss rotten apples on a window sill in opaque light. I miss looking up from my feet more than twice a day. I miss walking till my hips twitched when I finally sat down. I miss the scale. I miss how big everything was. I miss how big everyone’s ideas were, how big their hearts were and how big their generosity was. I miss feeling involved in something. I miss being part of a group. I miss looking into a sink full of dirty dishes and being shooed away. I miss aisles and aisles of alien produce and packaging. I miss Canada Dry. I miss sitting back and watching people interact without being ignored. I miss feeling like I was wanted somewhere. I miss smiling so often. I miss being amazed at every corner and being in awe nearly ever minute of the day. I miss forcing myself to be articulate. I miss being kissed. I miss feeling like I was having an impact on someone. I miss Fijit nosing me in the dark. I miss having something to do everyday, even when it was nothing. I miss watching people be so happy. I miss sand being fucking EVERYWHERE. I miss being silly. I miss the steam coming through the drains. I miss the golden hour when the sky became a grade and the lights came on and everything came to life. I miss the expectancy that hung in the air. I miss walking down 5th avenue arm in arm with two beautiful women. I miss the views. I miss the trees. I miss those goddamn noisy crickets. I miss getting in the wrong side of the car. I miss the Avenues that went for miles straight ahead like giant troughs of a tail-light stream. I miss not caring what time it was. I miss staring at piles of food bigger than my head. I miss holding a hand. I miss resting a head. I miss the smell of the river. I miss that fucking view from the Brooklyn bridge. I miss singing stupid songs along to youtube. I miss holding my phone at the ready 24/7 because anything could be around the next corner. I miss being in someone else’s Vines. I miss just trying out ideas. I miss being listened to like what I said matters. I miss hearing people dissect their thoughts and feelings instead of brushing them aside for later, private inspection. I miss people being forthright. I miss the friendliness of strangers. I miss their openness. I miss being exotic and new. I miss not being mocked as a way of formal greeting or “endearment”. I miss the guffaw. I miss the 8 year old in grown up body. I miss the wildman in a shabby garret. I miss the bubbling bear and his Goldilocks. I miss the BFG. I miss the steel woman. I miss the grown up tinkerbell. I miss the famous girl. I miss all the damn dogs. I miss people out. I miss my friends.
I wish I’d said thank you more. I wish I’d had more money. I wish I could have treated people more. I wish I hadn’t got sick. I wish I wasn’t so grumpy. I wish I was more emotionally articulate. I wish I’d told everyone how grateful I was. I wish I could have repaid everyone. I wish people had realised how quick time was going to go. I wish I had spent longer with everyone. I wish I had finished that chocolate cake. I wish I had made a move. I wish I had held that hug just a second longer to let her know. I wish I had looked back. I wish I hadn’t got so grumpy when I couldn’t explain I wanted to spend more time with people or more time alone. I wish I was better in groups. I wish each party hadn’t taken so much out of me. I wish I could have explained how drained I was instead of walking out so I could go and cry on the beach. I wish I could have told them to stop being so fucking nice and understanding which was making me upset. I wish I could have told them how fragile I was without sounding like a prick. I wish I could have been stronger. I wish I could have endeared myself to more people. I wish I had been well enough to go on the ferris wheel. I wish smores had tasted better. I wish America had better chocolate. I wish I didn’t have to keep letting people pay for my whole damn trip. I wish I was a millionaire so I could do the same for everyone. I wish there was a way I could have bottled that night. I wish I could live by that river. I wish I had a bed like that one. I wish I could live those three days again. I wish I hadn’t freaked out and ran out of that cigar bar. I wish I had spent longer in the Farm House. I wish I had been there longer than a month. I wish I was more confident. I wish I could explain how much it all meant to me. I wish there had been a piano somewhere to play. I wish I’d stayed longer in the home without doors. I wish I didn’t have to write a stupid blog post in a list to tell them all how much I love them. I wish people could see what can be done if people give a shit. I wish people would stop decrying social media and start decrying humanity’s appalling attitude to its own species. I wish people would listen. I wish people took a broader look at the world. I wish we weren’t all so fucking stupid and self-centered. I wish we took care of one another like they all took care of me. I wish I was worth all of it. I wish I was still there. I wish.