When I’m back home in the wilds of Wales – not my home but where I settled through marriage and circumstance – I never miss America. I never think, ‘What I’d like right now is a Bob’s Big Boy,’ or ‘Let me walk down a busy interstate where I’m the only pedestrian visible for a number of miles.’ And then when I do come here – admittedly not very frequently, I feel almost instantly at home. And equally surprised about it.
I did spend eleven years of my childhood here. And I missed America so much when I left. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else. It was my family’s comfort zone. We really enjoyed living here. Helped of course that we were healthy and pretty well-off. Those solid suburbs. The whole place felt like home.
When it became apparent, through visas and life choices, I wasn’t coming back to live here, I slowly accepted it. The reason? For me, long-term where my mum goes, I go. And she’s not coming back. So now, I don’t think much about the States anymore – only to hear the news (usually bad) or to pause on a memory.
And then we flew in. It hit me like a bag of Florida oranges. The casual knowledge you can drive for weeks and weeks and you’d still be in the same country. The way people here wear their hearts on their sleeves. You can strike up powerful friendships in mere minutes. Connections that in the UK would take fourteen times longer to make. Even then you’d want to be careful you don’t offend anyone.
Don’t get me wrong – I like this way too. I appreciate British caution and deference. I just have a visceral warmth for American communication. You could could bask in it as much as the mid-summer sun. Alongside the refreshing breeze of open honesty. I know this place isn’t perfect. Still, just this thing is something else.