Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Missing

My son and I picked a wheelbarrow full of walnuts today.

We only spent twenty minutes doing it as well. There are loads more. I really should do something with them so - seeing as the wife is here seemingly less than when she was actually away at the minute - I might do that tomorrow. It'd be nice to be known as the place locally where all the nuts are. At the moment my neighbors have that lovely designation. It makes living here more exciting at least.

Actually where I live is on my mind at the moment. An online friend/dog-fondler returned to the UK recently. I'm suffering a robust case of the, "THIS PLACE IS SHIT" trembles at the moment. So her entry back to England has me somewhat jealous. Like a lot of ex-pats at this stage of a national election I wanted to flee anyway. There's only so much of this sort of arsehollery a sane person can take. And like many an expat I'm fully aware that I'm not actually pining for "home" (think of all the dog poo everywhere for starters) but rather I'm just restless. I am eternally homeless. I don't really belong anywhere. I went home in 2006 and knew in my bones that I didn't fit in. That's when I got that it doesn't matter where you are until you figure out how to feel okay with being a nomad. But there are periods of time when this place is intolerable simply because I am definitely not from here. I feel distinctly foreign. With my kids growing up here and blossoming it's highlighting this even more. Especially with grown adults all going on and on about how the next election is the most important in the history of the Republic ever ever ever.

A case in point being dragged by an acquaintance at my daughter's school to join in their fervent argument about how you know one political party is actively working toward the destruction of the United States as we know it because they are trying to covertly introduce national healthcare. I'm waging a guess that it's not all that covert if a 40-something Mom in the taint of New York state is somehow aware of it, but there we are. But they're certainly entitled to their opinion and they did emotively state that that they believe universal healthcare to be horrendous. Actually the word she used was "barbaric" - which is a very infrequently heard word over here in my experience. And the exact phrase she used was, "the health system in Europe is barbaric isn't it..?" and waited for me to agree. Quite why they'd interpreted my banal small-talk over the last month or so that I've been chatting with them as a window into a black, hollowed-out, disturbed soul of the type that actually believes that sort of thing is a mystery. But upon being dragged into it I made the point that Europe is a big place so it's a bit like asking them to tell a Spaniard what the playgrounds are like in Colorado. To which she said, "yes but you do have death panels in England right?" I suppose I could have just answered her. Instead I thought it would be more amusing to give her a tiny nugget of information and then see how that festers through the local network of people who are prepared to believe anything that someone else with similar beliefs tells them. So I just said, ".....we hung a monkey in Hsrtlepool once. But thinking about it it might have been French so..." Then the buzzer rang and my daughter came out to go home. I deeply hope that person is shit with Googling and just finds confirmation that this took place and assumes the whole thing is somehow linked together. Michelle Bachmann will be on TV in a week with her extravagantly flamboyant husband warning of "Hartlepool Hangings".

Regardless, I am also aware that part of the problem is that where I live just isn't all that nice. Some people here like it obviously. But then people suffering from Stockholm Syndrome love the people that are keeping them in a dungeon as well - so let's not place to high a degree of value in that. Sometimes I do tell people that I really don't like a place around here and they are quite surprised. Not "oh my God there's a dead body in my car!" surprised. More "I've just found a grey pube" surprised. Still my kids like it here so for the time being I'm gritting my teeth and bearing it. And I've recently been plowing into an old cookbook my wife made filled with recipes that we faithfully kept to when we were poor Bachelors students at university in Wales (I went there, she came for a year overseas). Most expats can tell you that a good way to get a good slice of home is to make an actual slice of home. So tonight I'm making a chicken soup the wife and I practically lived on. That should trigger some latent home-comfort. I have been craving something covered in custard as well. But my desserts are pretty poor - especially compared to my wife's visions of beauty. Actually I have an idea for a fantastic desert for her to make. It's an Actual Urinal Cake, Cake. I think that would be fantastic. But not tonight. I need custard to remind us all of our heritage. Of course when the kids won't eat it and reject all the stuff I make as "bland foreign crap" it may have the wrong effect.

Actually the Food = Home equation raised it's head when the above-mentioned friend who returned home mentioned different aspects of home-life that they were adapting to. They mentioned a laundry-list of achievements. But I noticed the crowning glory they hadn't listed proudly was going to Greggs. Americans casually joke about the spread of Starbucks. That place has nothing on Greggs. If they were both STDs (and let's be honest - in many ways they are) Starbucks would be like a mild yeast infection compared to the rampant case of herpes that has spread to every corner of every village and town in the UK.
The food is cheap, tastes cheap and is distinctly British. I lament that for many visitors from other countries that they have wandered into one - conned by the pleasing smell of cooked pastry and a just-made tikka-slice.

Greggs is awesome just because I recall whilst working as a civil servant in Bristol seeing a sign on the wall proudly boasting that 17% of the stuff in your sausage roll was real meat. This so horrified a coworker that he took a photo of it.  I can't even eat anything in Greggs and I still miss it - mechanically recovered shit and all. Someone would could reveal that the wet, jelly bits in a Greggs pork pie are the gelatinous residue gathered from slopping out Anne Widdicombe and I would still kind of want one just because I can't. I even miss the weird solid inedible lumps that I suspect the cloned women (all of whom look and sound identical regardless of where in the country you are) may have somehow physically budded something off into the sausage roll to bring up the "meat" content a little bit. 

Actually I shouldn't use the word, "awesome". My daughter has started describing things with that superlative and it makes me cringe. As a mid-to-late thirty year old English man I can't really get away with saying "dude" without sound like a I'm a high school teacher desperately trying to appear cool despite the receding hairline and corduroy jacket. Except I don't have receding hair and frankly brown corduroy is way nicer than blue denim every day of the week. Every single member of my family has a pair of brown cords. We live in the past man. I don't have a smart phone. Mine is modern circa 2006 (as in the latest cheapest one available 6 years ago). I don't have any idea what is on TV this year - the only thing we've watched is Ask The Midwife. Technologically I just upgraded my computer but I don't watch hot new movies or play fancy new games on it. I'm so lame I still have Carmageddon, Sensible Soccer and Worms (but that's an entirely separate issue - not sure why I've brought that up here...) on my system.And we all wear corduroy. It's almost our signature theme that stands us out in our community. Like being the only ones with a Green Party election sign. Or having your windows smashed in on Kristallnacht.

Anyway I should get to making that chicken soup.

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