…some of my more destructive acts seemed to be the result of the anarchic side of my character tripping the other side up, doing whatever it could to ensure i’d never end up achieving the things i’d set my heart on. i was my own worst enemy—and by the time i left new york there were plenty of competitors for that title.
yet in failing to become a somebody, did i just remain a nobody? or did i stay true to myself? i can’t help feeling that the terrorist inside of me was the british part sabotaging the american part. the longer i spent in the states, the more british i felt. like so many others, i thought that by moving to new york i could re-invent myself; i could become an american. it seemed entirely possible, too—for about six months. then my britishness started to reassert itself. it was as if i took a flight across the atlantic and my nationality came by boat…
my americanism is here, still, and always has been. and i knew that, i really did. it’s easy to distance yourself from the bits of america that seem to be universally hated in 2005: bush, conservatism, consumerism, imperialism, but america is so much more than that, and i’m upset with myself for forgetting that. when i first lived in germany, i came back telling everyone how wunderbar deutschland ist. after i returned from england the first time in 1998, i was dressed from head-to-toe in topman, drinking newcastle and listening to blur—same deal.
this time around, though, i know better. it’s not about which is better, and it’s not about enumerating the differences, and it’s not about trying to reconcile the myriad of experiences and emotions from my disparate disconnected lives. i have to look forward. i’ll bring my past with me, of course, but i have to look to the future.
toby concludes his rant with a lovely maxim courtesy of the philosopher horace:
coelum non animum
trans mare currunt
which translates to
those who cross the sea
change the sky above them,
but not their souls.