Friday, March 14, 2008

Certain Concepts by Nick Brakespear

(Warning: Post may contain peculiar UK English spelling. Side effects of reading peculiar UK English spelling may include - regular usage of the words “posh” and “pillock”, along with a very different understanding of the term “pissed”. Yes, today’s disclaimer was brought to you by the letter P.)

I think there are certain things humans were not built to comprehend, or simply haven’t evolved enough to comprehend. Certain concepts and scales of thought that we cannot fully process. As we stand upon a hill, looking out across a world glowing with the last dying embers of sunlight, watching the colour in the sky fade into a deep blue, the closest we ever get to comprehension of the a peculiar sense of longing. We try to assign words or images or sounds to such a moment, but they inevitably fall short of capturing the essence of that moment.

The same, I have found, is true of travel. At least it is for me. To travel across the ocean, to stand in a strange land and look up at a strange sky, the moon and stars tilted at the wrong angle; such an experience should have resulted in a sense of awe and wonder. To put it simply, a moment of “wow, I’m actually here”. A moment of true realisation.

I fought with my boredom and managed to cling to what was left of my sanity during an eleven hour economy class flight. After two hours of standing in line, I made it out of LAX in one piece. I survived four days of sleep deprivation and incessant paperwork. I endured all the inevitable days of illness and homesickness. And so here I am, an Englishman in California, melting in spring weather that resembles English summer (but without the flooding), all settled in for the most part. I’ve been here about a month now, and yet it still hasn’t really hit me.

During my recent adventure in San Francisco, it suddenly dawned on me that I was referring to La Verne as “home”, and yet as suddenly as this realisation had dawned on me...I couldn’t actually pinpoint the moment this change had happened. At what point did this strange little place in this strange massive land beneath this strange tilted sky...become not so strange? Stranger still, at what point did I stop noticing the strange accents all around me? Somewhere amid those days of endurance, exploration and excitement, my mind was acclimatising to this place and I didn’t even feel it happening.

It’s all in the details. Today I was searching through my belongings and found a ten pound note (worth approximately twenty dollars). As familiar as the rectangle of paper was, I looked at it as if it was an ancient relic from some long forgotten land that doesn’t really exist anymore. Yesterday it occurred to me that I was picking up my girlfriend’s Americanisms. A couple of weeks before that, I began referring to the “bin” as the “trashcan”. Thankfully, my stereotypical English accent remains, but whenever I stop and look behind me, I can see long streamers of debris I’ve started dragging along with me, and it appears to be growing exponentially.

The thought comes to me that perhaps my opening comments were inaccurate. Perhaps humans are capable of dealing with such drastic change and unusual experience...perhaps we just take it piece by piece to avoid breaking anything. And perhaps, as a result, each small piece changes us irrevocably.

Before I left England, my mother began prophesising about my time in the US and in what shape I’d be when I returned (she said I would return fat, and I’m starting to agree. I blame the donut shop.). With these recent realisations about the baggage I’ve been accumulating I find myself doing the same thing. If after a month I’ve settled in, if after a month I’m picking up American terminology, how will I be, what kind of person will I be when I return “home” in five months? In the sci-fi television series, Farscape, the lead character is taken on an epic adventure through a strange and utterly alien part of the universe. When he eventually finds his way home to Earth, he realises that he is no longer the same man he once was, that definitions of “home” and “family” have changed, and he returns to the great unknown.

When this adventure of mine reaches its conclusion and I am once again sitting in my room, staring at the grey clouds outside, will I give my bed, my desk, the old apple tree in the front garden...the same gaze that I gave that ten pound note? Or will I look back upon my time here in La Verne in much the same manner as one might look back upon a vivid daydream?

Who the end, the only certainty is that tomorrow we will not be the same people that we are today.
Alright alright, there are two certainties. The other is that when I return to England, I will be fat. Curse you Americans with your donuts and bagels!


Temporary Home

This blogsite is our temporary home while our website undergoes an extreme makeover of epic proportions (shifted septums, pacemakers, calf implants, dialysis, a fancy wig, contacts -- the works).

This was our old home, and while it is a bit dated, it's a good source of info regarding recent issues and the history of Prism Review.

Updates will follow regarding our new home. ETA summer 2009.