I’ve ended up the mother of a blue eyed, American, teenage boy. Many moons ago following a dreary day on a boating lake,the highlight of our British summer, my husband decided it would be a good idea for us, along with our two young daughters to move to the States. The plan was for one year’s life experience, we brought two suitcases. We still live in GA.
We’ve taken the trip “home” most summers. The girls picked up accents shortly after arriving stateside and we are welcomed as the visiting Southern Belles. Even in Britain coming home as an American feels like having a bumbling best friend. “It’s not “real life” is it?” said an English friend. It’s my real life. Depending on which of the two countries I’m in I feel I come across as having views at opposing ends of the political spectrum, always on the unpopular side of an argument. As a grinny woman who would love to be “in” it’s a pain in the bum.
This unsavory trait may come from my upbringing. I remember mum telling me when dad was a little boy he would hide under the bed he shared with his brothers if the social services visited. I know no child should have to feel embarrassed for not having. However, that little boy is the hardest working man in the world and I have seen that it makes sense for an individual to be accountable for himself. Maybe I prefer independent to popular.
Truthfully, falling in love with the South has been a long, complicated journey. Pitfalls along the way have included:
Bringing babies up in a bubble. We live in the “burbs” North of Atlanta. As an elementary school-er, my daughter hopped off the yellow bus with a scowl on her face. “Mom, why are we poor?”, she asked. Our large house is in a tree canopied neighborhood. Homes are thirty plus years old and our interior is a tad outdated. Ballygate, our house in England was over three hundred and you could virtually surf the floorboards as they were so sloped with age. It gave the place provenance. We ain’t poor.
Having practiced midwifery in the NHS I believe public health care works. I’ve seen it provide gentleness and dignity without fear of impossible payment.
Seeing the virulence of the American drug culture along with the terrified denial that surrounds it has blown me away.
Being bovine by nature, I’ve found the constant “pursuit of happiness” gets exhausting.
The weather in the ATL is lovely.
I am free to turn up at the gym, have a bacon butty followed by a nice nap next to the pool and still say I’ve been.
The land of endless ice for my fizzy drinks and take home boxes in restaurants is a comfortable place to be.
For $20 a night we take our tent to beaches, mountains, rivers, deserts or swamps and feel the joyous knowledge of having a soul.
Even with race being an ongoing issue the people have elected a mixed race man. The worst thing that will happen when you have an “Obama” yard sign midst a sea saying “McCain” is that kids will nick it x
After the “mighty sucker punch” that was 9/11 we may have fought back too quickly. But, in a war weary world unable to comprehend the cost to countless innocents I’m proud of a place that says “not OK dude” to maniacs.
Finally, “it’s the little act of kindness”, traditional around here, of bringing a family having troubles a meal to show them that you “give a damn,” that best reflects the beauty of the South to me.
I believe when it comes to “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, this vast, undefinable, imperfect country is as good as it gets. “Merica” x.