Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mon Amérique à moi

Jacques Brel, the best songwriter/performer to ever come from Belgium has a song called "Madeleine". One of the things he says in it is "elle est mon Amérique a moi" - she's my America. I always thought it was a great expression, the combination of naivety and adventure. Brel's image in his songs is of fairytale America, of the Far West and Indians, of adventure and opportunity - like in another song I love "They've got cars big as bars/They've got rivers of gold".

Speaking of songs, I once said that I could never love anyone who didn't like The Smiths' "There's a light that never goes out". Similarly, this expression "elle est mon Amérique a moi", is a shortcut to my heart, much like, say, a love of Orwell. This is slightly bizarre, as I have never been especially fond of this modern day America, especially not when I first heard this song. I was always more into Britain, land of scones and honey. I guess it was mostly the idea that appealed to me, this vision that you have, hopefully, at some stage of your life, of the big exciting world out there that you want to go to. And to say that of a person, to say that they're all of that adventure, that's wonderful, and it still is the best compliment in my eyes.

It is in many ways ironic, and appropriate, that over the last years, which have been so, er, troubled for America, I should have made friends there, and gained a special appreciation for armadilloes as well as the places I've been. And now it looks like I will be moving there, for love no less. For a lover who is, in a good many ways, my America.

I don't expect to like it all the time. US policy and I don't often agree on many things these days. Also, I hate having to drive everywhere; I love walking in cities. How much does that matter? I love adventure, and obviously I love my fiance (argh! I'm engaged!). I look forward to curling up with him on the sofa on an idle Tuesday evening, and to cooking together. I look forward to taking roadtrips with him and with my other friends. I look forward to lying on the lawn in Florida outside my friend's house. Damn it, I even look forward to going grocery shopping in some ridiculously oversized grocery story where I can't face bying toothpast because there is too much light and too much choice.

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