So today is my 518th day as a returning (rehabbing?) resident of the land of the free and the home of the…. well thats a long list. Anyone who has had to spend more than a few minutes with me knows that my transition back to America has had its ups and downs. For the first six months, I really struggled. Of course that was exacerbated by the fact that I actually thought there was a chance that we’d have a Republican Congress AND President. At one point I was wondering where the camera would be installed in my bedroom.
Over the past year, I have for the most part adjusted to Boston (see “Time Flies and so do I”). Its a nice town and it has the benefit of being close to our summer home in the Cape. Now if I could just get summer to last more than 2 months! We really do like it here. My yearnings for our former home in London have continued to decline over time albeit with occasional lapses. My visit earlier this month was one of these. I’m not sure if its a case of “Bright Lights, Big City” or “Lots of Friends, Big Ego”, but I really didn’t want to leave.
In addition to whatever social/food/travel differences exist, there are also many things that someone with left of center sensibilities has to learn to deal with in America. Theres the divisive government with one party viewing success by the other’s failure. We have the NSA spying because “they can”, not necessarily because it’s necessary, not to mention that I’m pretty sure that they have no f’n clue as to what to do with the information other than save it for future use. That should scare everyone who can remember, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Of course, there’s guns. Every American should have one or TEN. These days my favorite is healthcare. Americans still don’t understand that they already had socialized medicine before Obamacare. It’s just that it was done in a way that if we put the 50 smartest people in the world into a room and told them to come up with the worst value for results process, they couldn’t possibly come up with the American health care system.
All of this is wrapped up in a nice little bow that is the fact that Americans believe that they are the best at EVERYTHING. While we are the best at lots of things, its not possible to be the best at everything. This belief just forecloses intelligent debate and discourse on many topics.
Anyway, thats not really why I’m writing this evening. Right now, I’m in Orlando with my just turned 10 year old daughter doing a tour of non-Disney theme parks. She is amazing! Funny, smart, great stamina (I wanted to leave the park before she did as I was exhausted) and so brave. She has gone on just about every ride at the two Universal parks and loved every minute. Before this trip she has been a reticent rider at best. Now, no fear. It has been great to spend so much time with her and build our bond.
The real point of tonights rambling is that IMHO, no where on Earth other than America could a place such as Orlando exist. I mean this in the best way possible. This truly is a land of fun and dreams. Even if I don’t take into consideration the surfeit of English accents, as you may know the Brits love Florida and theme parks, the place really is amazing. It’s also quintessentially American.
America is the place where the creative so seamlessly meets the commercial. As one walks through the Universal Studio parks, you realize that the thousands of people in the park are there to enjoy rides and shows based on movies that were blockbusters around the world. So not only did the movies; Harry Potter, SpiderMan, Jurassic Park, and Shrek to just name a few, thrill millions of viewers and gross billions of dollars, the virtuous cycle continues in the park.
Nowhere else could such mediocre casual dining food be so good and so much fun to eat. Theres Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville where performers make kids laugh while you have three drinks and dinner in 45 minutes. The worlds largest Hard Rock Cafe awaits you with the usual food and great music. I’ll bet there aren’t any BK Whopper Bars in Paris! Heck there’s even an NASCAR Cafe that can make this Yankee want to hit the track.
The best part of the whole thing is that everyone working at the parks is helpful and pleasant. We haven’t encountered a single surly person. Our visit has been truly a pleasure. Oh and before I forget, 75 degrees beats the heck out of 15.
So I guess theres nothing really new here. We already know that America’s greatest export is its pleasure culture. It ain’t Shakespeare, Mozart, or even Bergman but it is ours.
Know what? It’s not all that bad……..
On to Tampa!