Sunday, December 07, 2008

No Longer At Ease

Whoever said you can't go home, I am finally starting to accept that maybe they were onto something.

Perhaps it is the five year threshold that is proving to be more powerful than I would have thought. For the first time, I feel ill at ease in a city that I have long considered more of my home than anywhere else. It all just seems very foreign. Not the streets, or the people, but I have lost that ease that one usually has when you know exactly how things work. The familiarity that always greets me when I set foot in London eludes me this time.

It isn't frightening or even upsetting, it is just strange. To have to think really hard about what typical procedures are, it just doesn't come naturally anymore to do things the British way. There are all these little signs that tell me that I am struggling to hold on to something that doesn't really belong to me anymore. I am now firmly planted on the outside looking in. Still enchanted by London, but not really feeling a part of it.

Since I arrived in the UK over a week ago, I have had scores of people ask me what part of America I am from. They tell me I have an American twang tempered by a soft British accent. For some reason this makes me sad, I feel as though it should be the other way round. I find myself straining to hear my speech patterns even as I am engaging in conversation which makes for some very awkward encounters. In a bid to demonstrate my 'britishness', I can feel myself softening the flatness of my vowels, rounding my o's more deliberately. Much the way someone fresh off the boat would attempt to fake an accent to belong. This is what it has come to.

Will it always be this way? Or will I simply accept my fate as a global citizen, destined to belong nowhere in particular but feeling comfortable enough to be anywhere? I really don't know.