09 March 2009


I am very pleased at the prospect of a shiny new warm week with no classes in it. I spent yesterday in the botanical gardens and today I came home from church and had a very housewifely afternoon. My apartment has now been thoroughly aired out and the furniture shifted in order to mop. My summer clothes have been unearthed and I have two boxes for the Goodwill (Oxfam equivalent).

The weather this weekend could only with difficulty be more different from last weekend's. Here is the churchyard at Our Lady of the Holy Smokes last weekend right after evensong:

Beautiful, no? This Sunday, however, I wore a sundress to church and sandals, instead of last week's two undershirts, scarf wrapped around hat, boots and two pairs of socks and so on.

It suddenly occurred to me during church today that I will be living here for perhaps only a few more months. I knew that spring break meant that only seven and a half weeks of classes remained but I hadn't really thought about the fact that my days here are numberable. Realising this, smack in the middle of mass, made me quite melancholy. I love my little church and I grown happily accustomed to many of the aspects of living here. Apple picking in the fall, for instance, and having a porch and the way that even the barbecue places in this town have vegan options on the menu.

It's hard to know what to think. I never thought I'd be here this long and I dearly hope that I will be adding another visa to my passport in September but, just as there are several parts of myself that decidely do not fit in here in Bairdville, there are parts of me that will be forced into disuse when, if I go elsewhere. This is what comes of growing up in two countries, I suppose.

When I moved, I moved back to the south because if I had to live in America, the south was at least somewhat familiar. I lived up north for a year and hated it. Not only was it not London, but it was also not anything like what I remembered of America, accent or otherwise. It was as much a foreign country as Britain used to be. My sister, conversely, went to university up north and would rather leave the East Coast altogether than move down south, as far as I can tell. But then, she was much younger when we moved overseas in the first place and all her American friends from school in London are northerners, so I imagine the north felt as normal as the south to her when she came back.

I don't necessarily mind that I never quite fit into whichever place I live but it would be a relief to go somewhere where it will be obvious that I don't fit in. Here, I sound like I'm more or less from here, which I am, but I dress differently and think differently and care about some things that few here care about: things that are not priorities, culturally, like modern fiction or political theory. At least when I live somewhere where I can open my mouth and sound like a foreigner, I have some room to maneuver (manoeuvre) among my own self and the expectations of others.

Reading back, this sounds a little bitter but honestly I had rather have this perpetual internal dislocation than not. Most of the people I know here are from this part of the state, or at least this state, whose parents live in the house of their childhood and who have never lived more than 150 miles from their families, if that far. I can't imagine what that would be like. I would rather make jokes about BA flight 2226 being my hometown and mix up my spellings and never fit in too smoothly.


  1. Not quite fitting in is a bummer. You have my sympathies. I sort of feel a bit like that, having to constantly shuttle between Northwich (my family home) and Durham (my university). As soon as I get used to one environment I have to move to another.

  2. For a while I lived in a tiny little town in Northeast Georgia and my family were still in London. When it was time to go back after Christmas or similar, I would think, 'Oh well, time to get back in the box.' Very painful.
    It's amazing what an effect environment can have...

  3. That's some crazy weather you have in your parts if it can go from sub-zero to sub-tropical in just one week!
    As I'm sure you know, he North/South divide is a big deal in the UK. Born and raised in the Midlands has enabled me a certain slipperyness but these days I tend to identify myself with the North. I live there, my parent's families hailed from there and I call the midday meal 'dinner' and the evening meal 'tea' (as opposed to 'lunch'/'dinner or supper' down south).
    My accent however, is hybrid and highly succeptible to that of whoever I'm listening/talking to.
    I have lived in many places and I mostly conclude that I can make myself at home in almost any city but more than a weekend in the suburbs is more than enough.
    Good luck with your date by the way! The anticipation of these events is a delicacy in itself!

  4. It is crazy weather, but that's what comes of living in the mountains. Being in the path of the air from the gulf of Mexico and also the arctic Canadian winds that blow over the great lakes makes for odd phenomena: we get things like thundersnow when some of the air mass is warm enough for a thunderstorm and another part is cold enough to make snow. It can be quite exciting.
    I too have the accent slippage. That North/South thing is a big deal here as well, as you know, except that the snobbery that can be associated with it goes in the other direction. We don't have any magical roads like the M1, though. I love how its signs say merely 'The North' when one joins it from the A40. Here we just have I-95, which is about as uninspiring a road as can be imagined. From Disneyworld to New York City via Raleigh: ugh.
    Thanks for the good luck wishes!

  5. How did you cope with the magpies in France, Kate? I meant to ask but forgot.

  6. Ah the magpie story..
    I can safely say that we were the only vegetarians in the whole region and that everyone else relished the consumption of just about any species of flesh! (we used to go along to the 'hunter's balls' which would involve the rest of the guests eating their way up the food chain while we sat savouring a solitary bean or sweetcorn kernal!).Therefore I knew I'd have good takers for the magpies pretty much anywhere. I wrapped them in cloth and put them in a back-pack and ambled my way to the local bar. I didn't notice the sack slip open and one by one the dead birds dropping out onto the pavement. I had a couple of people running up behind waving them at me! My 'gypsy' friend was at his usual seat at the bar and gratefully relieved me of them. Interesting recipes for squirrels, beavers and hedgehogs were exchanged over a cool beer!
    We had a similar micro-climate over there being situated in the corner between the Pyranees and the Atlantic - 28 degrees in february, giant hail-stones in summer!