The Broad is Back!

June 14, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

Filed under: ex-pats,New Broads,travel — by maggiec @ 2:38 pm

Pop songs from the 60s, the period of my early childhood, have long provided a sound track for my life. I find phrases popping through my head at the oddest times. And right now it’s Peter, Paul and Mary I am hearing in the background music of my life.

As I write this, I am literally sitting on a jet plane, and like the singer of that song, I don’t know when I’ll be back again. Well, not for a while perhaps. I’m on the flight to my new life.

Now before I muse further on that new life, a word about airports. In those Internet questionnaires on “learn more about your friends” that ask about your least favorite place on earth, I always, always answer “airports”. They are ghastly places, where time goes into a warp tunnel. And now thanks to new security measures, they are uncomfortable and expensive time warp tunnels.

And is it me, or are most major American airports interchangeable? Transferring at Chicago’s O’Hare today, I all of a sudden couldn’t remember if I was in Chicago or Newark. At least when I’m traveling in Europe or Asia, the language clues me into where I am. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it certainly adds to the sense of dislocation and unreality. The sense of being lost.

I know that airports, as annoying as they are, have made it possible for me to live the life I live. I am losing one day to travel—dirty bathrooms shared with 100 other people, screwed up meal times, bad food—but when it’s all over it is only one day. Only a hundred year ago, that one miserable day would have been closer to one month of miserable days, no bathrooms, sometimes sketchy meal times, and bad food. So in some respects, I’m incredibly spoiled. And like all spoiled people, the more I have, the more I want. But if it weren’t for these little anterooms to hell, I couldn’t be an ex-pat. But enough moaning. On to the changes.

In the days leading up to this flight, I have been trying to figure out how I feel about it. Sometimes the word terrified comes to mind, but on reflection, I don’t think that’s it. I’m not really sure that this emotion I’m feeling is fear.

This is certainly a new experience. Every other time I’ve made a change, I’ve been going into the almost totally unknown. Now I’m going into something I know, but I don’t know. It’s been so many long years, and as Thomas Wolfe famously wrote, “You can’t go home again.” The downside of being an English scholar is that my brain is jammed to overflowing with literary allusions that sometimes scare me.

Trepidation might be the nearest description for what I’m feeling. Will I be able to make the transition back? One story that ex-pats hear over and over again is the one about the American who went back to the States only to have to leave again. The fit was too uncomfortable. I do wonder if this will happen to me. And this isn’t just idle speculation on my part.

Once, back in the days when I was writing “A Broad Abroad,” a friend wrote to me and said “The America you remember isn’t here anymore. It’s an America of the past.” Sometimes when I’m visiting, I see that so clearly. Change is inevitable, of course, but not all change is to my tastes. And as I tell people who ask how I feel right now, sometimes it’s easier to be a fish out of water in a place where people expect you to not fit in. But in the US, people expect me to follow the program, to do what is expected. And from what I hear, being different, dissenting from the mainstream, is a frowned upon quality nowadays.

I wonder if this isn’t being overstated. It’s not that I don’t believe what I hear people saying. It’s more that I want to see it for myself, to make my own judgments.

So I guess on that account, this really is the start of something new, perhaps an adventure.



  1. I’m actually fascinated to hear what you think of it. Please blog it!
    I’m so excited you’re coming back. 🙂

    Comment by Emily — June 14, 2007 @ 7:59 pm |Reply

  2. Did you notice I was quoting you in the post? (And did you see my comment on 28 Days Later? That anonymous comment was me.) So let’s see what the future will bring!

    Comment by maggiec — June 15, 2007 @ 4:19 am |Reply

  3. Every home you’ve known will be changed and different when you return, but so will you. Hope your new adventure develops into something good…

    Comment by Åsa — June 16, 2007 @ 12:15 am |Reply

  4. I wondered if that was me, because I remembered we talked about it — but surely I can’t be the only one! Makes me feel melodramatic. I saw your comment — Breakfast on Pluto is in my Netflix queue. Cillian Murphy is OK, but I’m not all excited or nothin’. *hugs*

    Comment by Emily — June 18, 2007 @ 9:25 am |Reply

  5. That really hits home!I have many of those same feelings yet I’ve never left. Maybe it’s only age and perspective. Alas, we must press on.

    Comment by Danny M — June 26, 2007 @ 1:01 am |Reply

  6. p.s. Welcome home!

    Comment by Danny M — June 26, 2007 @ 1:02 am |Reply

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