Oh, people. I just don’t have it in me today.
I have spent the last week reading some of the most hateful posts, seeing so much fuckery afoot from our government, and mourning with a community in Florida. Mourning with a nation. I don’t have any creativity in me. I don’t have the ability to survey the wasteland and say, “Well, we can clean it up and grow crops.”
Nope. Not gonna do it. When things like this happen to me, and I find that I am well and truly blocked, I dip into the bank of bullshit that I call my writing and find something I don’t mind reading again too much, and then I hope that you don’t mind reading it, too. Thank fuck for years of crap in those archives! Enjoy this light-weighted, prosaic little ditty of nonsense That I penned about 6 years ago. (Let’s also remember that now, 6 years later, I have even more reasons to not want to live in this clusterfuck of a country. My musings in this dribble seem almost carefree and logical now!)
Last night, I found myself watching two of my favorite films: Notting Hill, and Love Actually.By the end of the evening, I was wistful and blissed-out and irritated. Yes, I said irritated. Every time I watch a Hugh Grant film, I find myself filled with an irresistible longing to live in the UK.
I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I suppose it makes me sound un-American and like I aspire to become an ex patriot, and I suppose the latter is true. The former? I’m still unabashedly an American and proud to say so, at least in circles that recognize the word as it should be – America – and not this newfangled form of redneck speak which identifies a great big growing segment of this country – ‘Murica. I’m an American. I can enunciate. This is not ‘Murica to me.
And yet…..and yet. The pull of the UK is magnetic and overwhelming whenever I view Hugh Grant movies. I’m no psychologist, but I suppose the reasons have a lot to do with my overall dissatisfaction with my own life as it is, and obviously, picking up and moving to a foreign country is not going to fix most of the problems I have. If anything, it would create new ones. The very idea of moving to a foreign land and starting over is both frightening and exciting, and I’ve daydreamed about it for many years. The daydreams had mostly faded away, except for the occasional conversation with my best friend, who shares dual citizenship with Australia and the UK. She has, numerous times, urged me to come live near her, because the money’s better and while the politics are easily infuriating to its citizens, it’s not as much of a mess as it is here. She’s contemplating a move from Australia to the UK, and I guess that’s where this little seed of a daydream began for me again. I am envious of her ability to pull up stakes and make a new life if she wants to, but I know that her circumstances are different than mine and so I can’t be cross with her. Oh, how I wish, though. I wish.
When my daughter was young, we used to daydream together. We wanted to go to Ireland and find a little cottage near the sea and live in it, away from everyone and everything. We would have a garden and flowers and a goat. We would have kitties. We’d ride bikes into the nearest village and have an old, bockety car for bigger trips. It was, of course, a sweet musing between a young girl and her mother, and a beautiful one at that. I still long for it at times, but then I will view Hugh Grant in nearly any film he has starred, with his self-effacing personality and twinkling blue eyes, and I will find myself wondering why I can’t have a life like that?
Look at the elements of a successful Hugh Grant film, if you will. Listen, I don’t have a thing for Hugh Grant. I don’t necessarily find him attractive. I do find his characters attractive, but I would much rather be one of the ensemble that surrounds him. Those people lead such interesting lives and they’re all such good friends to one another! The group who supported him in Notting Hill when Julia Roberts rejected him was funny and kind and quirky and above all else, human. Who wouldn’t want a group of friends to commiserate with, to drink wine with, to just be with in both good times and in bad? Who wouldn’t want a “Spike” to gape at when he pulled something ridiculous or wore some sort of outrageous t-shirt? Who wouldn’t want a group of friends who would do ANYTHING to help another friend be happy? The same goes for the ensemble in Love Actually. Those characters are fantastic and interesting and I always find myself wishing I could just drop right in there and find my niche.
Don’t get me started on the scenery, either. Notting Hill itself is absolutely stunning in its beauty and endlessly interesting, with its shops and street vendors. It looks like the sort of place where one feels included as well as having the ability to step back and be anonymous if one wants. The building facades are charming and the overall feeling is welcoming. Who wouldn’t want that? Similarly, there’s London to consider, with it’s historical aspects intermingling with skyscrapers and the people bustling about and the charming rowhouses and the cobblestone streets. The scene in Love Actually, when the Kelly Clarkson song cues and all the Christmas lights of the London night are shown – breathtaking! Oh, I could go on forever about what I love about it. I want it all. I want to be dipped in it like a strawberry in chocolate. I want to absorb it, to be a vital element living and breathing within the throbbing beauty of it all.
Listen, I know I may sound a bit ridiculous to some. I happen to know that I don’t sound at all ridiculous to more than a few of you. I also know that it’s a dream, a silly pipedream, and that I have a perfectly good life with the ability to seek out and create beauty right here. Let me tell you though, life here ain’t so hot these days. The growing anger within this country and the fractured values, the de-sensitivity to violence and heartbreak, and the millions of faces who immerse them in little screens and big screens and who cut themselves off entirely from the whole population while “living” within their social media…..it’s becoming intolerable. I’m just as guilty as most. I pull out my phone at the drop of the hat and look up a factoid or peruse Facebook on my work break. There are usually two or three perfectly good humans for me to have conversations with seated at the table where I’m at. We could be carrying on lively conversations. Are we? For the most part, no. We are looking at our phones and shoveling in the food. It’s the same in the car. On the street. In the parks. In the checkout line at the grocery store. We are surrounded by people and yet we are completely alone. Kids are growing up not knowing how to socialize if it doesn’t include and structured sport setting or the ability to navigate through a video game of some sort. 3 year-olds are learning how to use Ipads with frightening speed.
I don’t think that it’s better in the UK. I know that these kinds of sub-human activities are going on there, too. I also know that I have good friends who would have my back if needed, even though we are scattered all over the country and in other lands as well. Maybe that’s a key thing for me. I need friends to go to coffee with right here and to drink a bottle of wine with right here and to hang out with, moaning about the mundane trivialities of everyday life. I work too much, make too little, and find the life sapped right out of me at the end of every day. I have neither the energy nor the time to cultivate such relationships, and yet, I feel that maybe I ought to, if I want to get to the place where I think I need to be in order to survive the joy and pain that is life. I have cocooned myself away, and the price I’ve paid for that is to watch Hugh Grant movies and to envy people who don’t exist and a life that doesn’t exist. The possibility of having a life like that is ridiculous; I’m too old to start over and to have to navigate my way through the uncertain waters of employment and housing and the seeking out of an ensemble of friends like in one of those movies. I don’t truly want to do the work it would entail. But I can wish, right?
But gosh, to have a friend like Hugh Grant, with that hair and those eyes!