I just booked my plane ticket to London for next month. My first reaction was: good God
, when did airline fees and taxes jump so high? I don't remember them being near this high when I last crossed the pond. There needs to be a way to get those down to a reasonable level, or at least make the ticket fees more representative of the real price.
My second reaction - probably the more interesting of the two! - was giddiness. Not at buying the ticket so much, though it's really good to have hit the "confirm" button. But really, it was the little thing. Words like "tube," "heathrow," "hostel" and "return" (as opposed to round trip) - they make me miss England so much. And I was only there once, several years ago! But I find myself yearning for it, intensely.
I think a part of my reaction is coming from The Help
, which just opened this weekend. Fabulous movie IMO, and I won't go into spoilers for obvious reasons, but I will say that it looked not just at racial tensions but also the drive to conform you see in the white Southern community, especially among women. I suspect this is the case in other Southern subcultures as well but I have never had access to them. Setting aside the major cities, life is much less about what you do and more bout who you do it with. I remember the jokes about people sitting on their porch making sure the 11:05 train from Atlanta was on time. Or people just sitting on the porch, talking or reading a book or just watching a thunderstorm.
It's a slower-paced life, but not without its charms. Thing is, those charms usually involve social events with other people. Having friends call, or things like church functions and dinner clubs. All of which makes it very hard to live a full life if you don't fit into the mold. The Help
presents us with stories of people who don't fit into their society for lots of different reasons. Watching the movie, I couldn't stop thinking about the pain of that distance, and the cost of it for those who can fit in. There are costs to every lifestyle of course but this is the lifestyle I know. So seeing so much of that played out on screen hit home.
For me, my experience with England is all about adventure and autonomy. Everything from the individual university rooms to the train system to the hostels - you don't have to have a lot of money or connections to go out and have good experiences. Or at least I didn't. That's available elsewhere, of course, including in the South if you drive (I don't). But for me, in my personal experience, England represents all of that. I love it for its own sake, too, but I love it for the association as well. And it's good to be reminded of all that sometimes.
Speaking of the South, Jon Stewart had a fascinating interview recently, with a historian who wrote a book on Davey Crockett. It has some really fascinating stories. Much recommended.( Read more... )