Quiet day today. I think I had one too many mint juleps at Wendy and Rob's last night. But when you’re embarking upon a World Tour (even if it is the virtual world) you can’t let a little thing like a hangover slow you down, so my pounding head, dry throat, sandpaper eyeballs and I all got up at 5AM to catch the 8:27 flight out of Little Rock. When Almost American picked me up in Chicopee this afternoon, I was still feeling a little fragile so as soon as we got to her place she made me tea and toast; she even cut it into soldiers for me.
It's nice to be back here in Massachusetts, only one of two states whose name I can't spell without having to look it up (the other is Connecticut).
I used to live here, you know; when my first marriage ended, I moved into a flat in Pittsfield with my buddy and his girlfriend and her two-year old child. I had no other place to go and they were kind enough to take me in. Overnight I went from living in a four bedroom house with one and a half baths, dining room, office, full basement and redwood porch to sleeping on a sofa in a second floor walk-up. It was not the high point of my life.
That unhappy incident did not sully my feelings for Massachusetts, however. It's a lovely state, and I have many happy memories of climbing its mountains, visiting its quaint and touristy towns and peeping at its leaves. A drive along the Mass Pike at the peak of autumn is about the prettiest sight in the world (barring, of course, a drive up the The Northway, through the Adirondack State Park). Almost American is lucky—having left England, she is now living in a place just as beautiful.
It is amazing how much Britain and New England resemble each other, terrain-wise, at least. Where I live in Sussex, the weald and downs look much like—and are every bit as fetching as—the Hudson Valley and Berkshire Mountains. And further north, the Scottish highlands have more than a passing resemblance to the Adirondacks and the mountains of Maine. But seeing as how they used to be part of the same land mass (or so they tell me, it was a few years before I was born) perhaps it isn't so amazing after all.
Back then, of course, when we all lived together, we all spoke the same and things were a little less confusing; an elevator was an elevator, not a lift, and a car had a trunk and a hood, not a boot and a bonnet, and aluminium had not yet developed that extraneous syllable. It wasn't until we drifted apart that the Brits started needlessly searching for new ways to pronounce “oregano,” “lieutenant” and “schedule” when they already had perfectly acceptable pronunciations. At least that's how it looks from this side of the Atlantic. Or perhaps my thinking is still a bit muddled by mint julep fallout.
I think I'd better have another cup of tea and some toast soldiers, then I'll get back to you on that language thing.
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Michael Harling is an American author living in the UK undertaking a virtual world tour via the kindness of strangers.