I’m an immigrant. It’s a tough question: do I stop being one?
I’ve lived in the United States since 2004. Can only explain the desire to come live here back then as an unrealistic fantasy. It was and it is.
I think when I moved here from the comfortable world of Reading, U.K., I mostly thought it was a change from a kind of empty full space that had occupied my life through most of my twenties. A way to find something, even if the something I was looking for was quite unclear to me at the time.
I distinctly remember watching the Bush re-election on the massive CRT screen in my Berkshire flat a month before coming here, and thinking, “what have you done?”. It was a moment of wondering whether I’d made the right choice. Did I really understand what America was?
Of course, I never really did, and never really will. It’s not really one thing. A notion of freedom, of possibilities. I think I felt that for a time as I surfed out the remaining years of my twenties and early thirties in the surprising cold of the financial district in San Francisco. Watched Bush go, and Obama come. It seemed like a Blair-like moment of transformation, but it didn’t match that experience. Surprised by the impotence, the anticlimax of it all. The massive politicisation. The racism.
And now, I’ve been here 13 years, all of a sudden. My green card on the verge of expiration. Renewing or becoming a citizen. Not really a choice. My wife and children, a thing that happened mostly to my pleasant surprise, all Americans. I’m the Brit.
There’s no going back. But I don’t know that I really want the forward. A grim horror show of fascism seems to be unfolding. It’s not better in the homeland as brexit and May dominate.
I comically grimaced in a family photo the night Trump was elected. But it’s not funny any more. I feel every day like we took the wrong branch in an alternate universe in one of those sci-fi novels I used to read in the eighties.