Postcard from the Last Day: Atlanta, GA
Posted on April 27, 2005
It’s an image some might associate with “real America”: Two cops are sitting in a road side diner, sipping coffee and actually eating donuts.
But they’re not overweight, as you might imagine, nor are they male; hell, they’re not even White! What’s going on? you might ask.
Before they rush off to fight crime (they’ve actually just ordered more coffee), I think to myself, on the final day of my trip, of the lessons that I’ve learned. Have I learned about myself? Sure. I’ve learned that I have very sensitive teeth; that I’m a chocoholic (but for Corona); and that I’m not so bad with women (and that having a British accent, though only incidental back home, is pretty valuable here).
I’ve also learned that the pursuit of “real America”, which I suggested was the point of this trip, is pointless in nature. “Real America” is not what I imagined. It’s the people that have constantly altered my perception. It’s the slim, Black policewomen; the Cubans in Miami; the girl from Dayton, Ohio (who I know for sure does not have a tattoo on the small of her back); the gamblers and the drunks in Las Vegas; the hopeful of Hollywood; Michael Jackson; the ex-girlfriends; the trendy and spendy of San Francisco; the Jazz; the Bostonians.
On the train to the airport at the very outset of this trip I peered into the gardens of suburbia and deduced, like a shitty Dr Watson, that people’s lives were roughly the same. I saw paddling pools, rock gardens and patios. But I didn’t see the people.
And though I don’t expect to see slim, Black policwomen, or Michael Jackson, for that matter (not until he gets his passport returned, at least), I might look at England and its people through different eyes and, at least until those two weeks in July we Brits call summer, a different light. Goodbye sunshine, goodbye America.