Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thoughts on being home...

So...I fail at trying to post consistently here.  I want next term to be better - more posts, more trips, more to talk about, but I always seem to get busy (or feel busy) and never post anything.  I still haven't posted for my trips to Amsterdam, Spain, or Brighton, UK....I just get caught up with schoolwork, friends, or taking time out to relax, and kind of forget about, or put-off, posting here.

Being home has been I keep telling people, I experienced more culture-shock and homesickness going to San Francisco than to England.  I guess mostly because I expected everything to be different in England, so the changes caught me less off-guard.  I looked for them, delighted in the differences I found here, unlike some of my other American peers who didn't seem to take as easily to the changes they found abroad.  When I first went to San Francisco, however, I had no idea what to expect.  All the changes surprised me, and I wasn't mentally prepared for them.  It was also my first time away from home, and I found myself feeling very homesick the first year.  Now, being away from home (...I should probably define my use of the word "home" here - I usually use "home" to imply my childhood home in Southern California.  Though I also occasionally use home to describe California, or the States.  Sorry for the confusion here.  - I should also clarify, more for myself and my memories that my use of "home" doesn't really mean So. CA is my home, that this is where I want to settle down, rather it's more so just the fondest place in my memories as well as the place I have remained in the longest.  Southern California is the place I feel most comfortable calling home.)  Anyway, being away from home, or even California, has begun to feel normal, if only a temporary normalcy.  When things get bad or stressful in England, I just remind myself my time here is temporary and to enjoy the good stuff about England.  (When I stress out in SF, however, I usually feel trapped, waiting impatiently for when I can get out or escape whatever situation I am in.  When back in Southern California, my stress is even more amplified.  I feel I have no where to escape to, and when things go bad here, it feels worse than it really is.)

Upon returning home, here to Southern California (I have yet to go back to San Francisco) from England, it has felt nice to be home, but also feels kind of empty.  My first few trips returning here after going to San Francisco kind of felt surreal and like a fairy tale.  Everything enlivened my memories of Southern California and of my childhood, and coming home felt, well, like coming home, but being given a chance to see it in a fresher, newer, more exciting way.  After awhile it became the norm to be going between the two.  Coming back from England, however, has been different.  It feels more like everything is changing here.  (Never have I felt that experience of You Can't Go Home Again (Thomas Wolfe) - a book I still need to read (I have yet to read it as I've been waiting for the "right time" in my life to read it).  Steinbeck talks about it in his Travels with Charlie, how when he returns to Salinas on his trip around the States, some memories come back, but everything feels different.  Things have yet to feel so alienated for me here...though maybe if I read the book, it will make more sense in relation to my experience.)  More shops are closing, buildings are being torn down.  As the recession ages, it is finally starting to show outwardly, like plastic surgery, on the face of Orange County.  Odd scars indent the strip malls and storefronts, leaving marks no one wants to discus openly, even though they are ones that can't be ignored.  It makes me really wary to return to the US, especially So. Ca if this is where I need to live after I graduate from University in SF. 

California (apart from feeling very Californian - I am starting to realize how Californian California looks - direct sunlight, wide roads, open spaces measured by dry hills - in comparison to England (at least) - which is very tight, has winding streets in its cities, and large open spaces unmeasured by hills - just green fields rolling and stretching across the country).  Anyway, California has felt hollow after England.  I keep looking for England here, especially in the small things - hearing "Cheers" everywhere, asking for crisps instead of chips, or chips instead of fries, commenting on a stray ladybird instead of a ladybug, etc.  Also the cadence of their voices and accents - coming back to America (or even hearing some Americans speak in England) our voices sound very whiny (especially girl's voices, which is depressing to me as I'm sure I sound as whiny and valley-girlish as the rest of them).  Maybe it's just in the words and voices that I find myself missing is probably in other ways, but I can't think of any other specifics at the moment.  But, overall, California feels hollow compared to England.  It has it's own charm, but not the charm I have become accustomed to.  But even England's enchantment can't last forever, and in a weird way (probably from my disillusionment with certain experiences and people in San Francisco) I am glad I only have a year in England.  I would love it to be longer, but I'm scared it would loose its magic if I stay any longer.

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