Identity

I’ve always known that different types of books can attract different types of readers. Romantic types like romantic novels while the psychologically curious soak up crime. Common sense right? But I’d never considered that different kinds of books can attract different kinds of authors. Until the other day when Martina Cole brought it up. The crime author confirmed on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that crime writers were a good bunch. That they’d stand up for each other. Then she said, ‘Unlike romantic novelists who’ll stab you in the back.’

A joke obviously. Martina snickered knowingly after she said it. Still, it got me thinking. What makes us write different kinds of stories? And if personality has a hand in it, what kind of writers are travel writers? Surely a strange bunch. Ants in pants? Journalists who have an unhealthy interest in hotel beds? The first people in the room to disappear when the bill comes out? I could play this pigeon-holing game all day.

Our Florida window was closing fast though. Reality was calling. Back in Wales, there were tax bills to pay, dental appointments to skulk into and dear friends and family to see. Our dog, Fin was waiting for us too at Jack’s step mum, Vronnie’s. Since we’d left Fin after dragging her all the way across the Atlantic, she’d probably be pissed. This was home. We needed to say good-bye now to Henry the motel porter and see you later to his alligators.

‘Oh my God,’ he sang out I Love Lucy-style as we milled around outside the motel , ‘how can you afford to move around like this all the time?’ We looked at him. It was an interesting question from someone who’d worked in the same motel for over 45 years.

He grinned at the look on our faces. ‘Why don’t you just move here? You seem like you like it so much.’

Ok, so that was an interesting question. After all, through America’s many imperfections and increasingly unfair attributes, America still feels like the most wonderful place. It’s the paradox you’ll never figure out. And the longer you’re there, the more you get the feeling that you should go and get a coffee from Starbucks. And perhaps a muffin. Then go to Chipotle next door.

‘I never realised how good the Americans are at queueing,’ Jack said after we’d been standing in one for about half-an-hour. With two people in front of us.

Huh. He had a point. I mean if you were in the UK and were listening to the person in front ask for the fat content in every single drink, would you raise an eyebrow? Perhaps a nail-studded club? Here it felt normal. Pleasant even. Like you were in a comfortable walking coma that would only be broken by a typically terrible, typically American-based incident. And even then you might sigh a little and still wait. Since customer service is closest to godliness here.

Nope. Time to go. We did make our way to the airport under seriously darkening skies. The air smelled heavy like it was holding its breath. The rain which hadn’t shown up yet was ready to make up for lost time. Oh man. The alligators were about to have a party.

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