28 July 2012


I've been living in the States for the past 3 weeks, the Pacific Northwest more precisely – and by 'living' I mean 'occupying someone's spare room' – and wondering why, with my European eyes and my European past, I am not feeling nearly as alienated as I thought I would and nothing is quite as drastically different as I feel it should be. I tell myself it has to do with seeing all of 'this' (the wide roads arranged in grids, the amount of driving done every day, the amount and variety of food available at practically every corner) on tv, in films, and the general representation of the US cultivated in Europe and, apparently, by US citizens: for months before coming here I was groomed, mostly in jest, but sometimes in the form of earnest warnings, by my friends and the person I would be travelling with. Now that I'm here I feel that all this information, the leaps into US history, the joking confirmation of any stereotypes I'd select from my repertoire of pop-culture America, have failed to prepare me for the one thing I was not expecting: not feeling alienated or on foreign soil at all. Or at least, hardly. Sure, the accents here are different, and some people I meet still have a hard time getting what I say every time; considering I'm not a native speaker and don't even have the English accent, the one I slip into so much more frequently than not, down properly, I have to do quite a bit of awkward maneuvering between pronunciations to feel comfortable both with what my tongue wants to do spontaneously and what sounds more natural to the ears of the people I'm around at this point. Also, some things just can't be said in an English accent, let's be honest.
One of the things I was looking forward to in regards to this trip, apart from getting out of a notoriously rainy country and an even less appealing living situation, was precisely that feeling of alienation, of being so thoroughly un-at-home somewhere that a kind of rewiring of one's innermost settings takes place: in other words, I was looking forward to being shaken out of the languor I've been stuck in ever since I finished working on my thesis. I suppose that's why I'm taken aback by the absence of this feeling. I mean, why else do you travel? Yeah, yeah, for the view, and the experiences, but why else? The sense of attaining a modification of one's relationship with oneself, especially if this relationship has turned stale for various reasons, and the idea that this modification will somehow be lubricated by the fact that one is physically compelled into it. And, in my case, and I suppose not my case alone, because one hopes that this change of scenery will somehow be beneficial to one's artistic vent of choice, be it writing, painting, crafting, singing, or whatever else people do to leave an imprint of themselves on the outside world.
Let's see how this works out.

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