Dispatches from the South: A Week of Contrasts

It has been no ordinary week. The wedding, as you are well aware, went off with nary a hitch and I was able to sit and watch it in the comfort of my own sitting room (drinking tea out of our commemorative Kate and Wills tea mug) while Jonathan braved jet-lag (as well as a crowd of more than a million revelers) not 30 north of where I was.

As predicted, the Brits rose to the occasion admirably, and I managed to annoy a few republicans by stringing bunting around my desk at work, and then on my balcony on The Day. This earned me just a bit of disapproval (just a bit) for being too American, or not British enough, or too much of a Royalist—I’m still not sure which.

But the glow had barely dimmed before The Other Big News hit (well done, America, for holding off until after the wedding weekend—what a downer that would have turned out to be). That, too, was a big day, especially if you were an American; I basked in the collective victory along with my fellow countrymen but with a bit (just a bit) of caution, reminding myself and others that this really doesn’t bring anything to a close.

For this, or perhaps something else, I was labelled an “American Basher” by an old and dear friend. This, of course, gave me pause: you can do many things to an American, but you do not question their patriotism.

We’re heading into a new week now, and one has to hope that it is not so eventful and filled with passions. As the Tweeters have been observing, “The girl married the handsome prince, the dragon has been slain, it’s all very Disney.” To add to that, we’ve also had unbelievably stunning weather to accompany all of this. So I am ready for some uneventful days, a return to the drip, drip, drip of real life, and rain.

Have I really been in Britain so long that I have forgotten what it is like to be an American? And am I so brashly American, despite my longevity here, that I can never hope to fit in? That’s a sobering prospect, to be a man with a foot in two countries—and passports to both—but to belong to neither.

Don’t get the idea that I am planning to throw myself off of Beachy Head over this, it’s just something the flurry and fervor of this past week have brought to mind, and I welcome a bit of time to digest it.

I see the previously blue sky is clouded over this morning. I really hope it rains.

Rain in Britain


  1. avatar says

    I totally get where you are coming from. I’ve been here for over five years and I feel like an in-between person. I don’t get some cultural references in both countries, I forget words used in the States and then end up calling trousers pants in public. It’s tough to be a 3rd culture person at times!

  2. avatar says

    Yes, I often have to think hard to recall what items were called in the States, and I can get confused about which country certain terms are relevant to.

    Thanks for mentioning the cultural reference thing; I did notice that when I visited last–where I was obviously missing something other people were getting because I had been so long “out of the loop”

  3. avatarSara says

    Loved your post, Mike. I have found great relief just learning about Third-Culture Kids and Adults. I was born, ironically, in Normal, Ill. Six months later we moved to France, where we stayed for 3 years. Back to the states for a bit and then on to Okinawa for almost 3 years. I have always felt a tug to France and England, and visit as often as I can. I always feel like I’m trying to find home. My goal is to buy a small house in central France before too much longer. It’s good to know that there are other people who “get me.” :)

  4. avatar says

    Sara: Thanks. I was considering not posting that column because it wasn’t all sweetness and light, which is what I am usually about. But being an expat is a lonely business at times, and it’s good to at least acknowledge that fact.

Leave a Reply