American Update – The Finale

This is written from the comfort of my own bed back in Glasgow, after returning from sweet home Alabama. Even though I’d successfully taken numerous flights between three airports and a myriad of security checks (as well as a bus or two), I managed to fall at the last hurdle and take the long train back from Haymarket in Edinburgh to Glasgow. You know the one that stops at every god forsaken town in the central belt of Scotland and takes two hours?

Yup.

In the airport in Dallas I got talking to an American woman who had overheard me speaking to some German guy, and asked which part of Glasgow I was from. Apparently her husband was from Clydebank, and I was relieved to hear that he still had his Wegie accent even after ten years of living in the States. The Americans didn’t believe me that this would happen, but with something as important to your identity as an accent is to Glaswegians, it sticks with you.

This guy also asked me why I’d been out in Texas, and when I replied that I’d actually been in Alabama, he responded by saying: “Aye, very good, but that’s no really an answer to ma question, is it big man?”

You don’t realise how much you miss that sort of caustic response til you’ve been away.

Anyway, this is the last batch of photos from this trip, which is quite sad. It may well be a cliché, but even though I only literally got home last night, the whole adventure seems like a whole world away from here; as if it took place in some sort of parallel life. I’ve spoken about this a bit with all the girls (Natalie and both Carolines) separately, and you can easily underestimate just how disjointed it can be when you experience something in that way, and how it can feel like you have some sort of fractured existence. I’m not quite sure how to handle that better, except to try break down that ‘fourth wall’ that exists in some way.

I spent the last day wandering around where Kenneth lived in Mobile, and for once just enjoyed walking in the sun and letting my mind drift off. When I was younger I remember hearing a quote from C.S. Lewis (I think?) which said that he loved getting delayed when he was going somewhere, because it meant that he had been given time out of a busy world where he could do nothing else except sit and think.

I’ve always liked that idea, but in practice have been rubbish at achieving it. Being hyper-sensitive to what’s going on around about has never really let my thoughts just settle and wander about of their own accord.

Spending so much time in transit, or with my own company on this trip, and being so far removed from everything that might put an emotional squeeze on my immediate thoughts has allowed time for my consciousness to adjust a bit, and it’s got to be a good thing. Hopefully there’ll be some way to keep that ‘peace of mind’ intact.

This is Kenneth. Sadly I didn’t get as much time to hang out with him the way things worked out, but he’s a wonderfully intense, alive sort of person, who is fairly fascinating to spend some time with. We went round to his friend’s house with some Isle of Jura single malt and hung out for a bit so I could meet them, which was cool. The Couchsurfing community in Mobile seems to be just that… a real-life, vibrant community, which I’m fairly envious of.

It doesn’t have a huge amount of bars downtown, but Mobile has a couple that I could easily get used to spending time in. One of them wasn’t dis-similar in feel to the good ol’ 13th Note, and they even had a placed called ‘the Garage’, which actually was a working mechanics at one point. The Americans took great glee in the fact that I called it garage as in garridge, since they all pronounced it garaudj.

This is Stoney Boatman (how awesome a name is that?!) who works at the bar. He’s the one who gave me the shot of Jager and root beer on the very first night, and was a pure good guy man. It’s funny how you meet people along your travels who make things that bit more pleasant. Maybe there’s something in that that we should apply to everyday life…

It was in this fine establishment which we had our final soirée. Quite a few folk that I’d met over the two weeks turned up, which was nice and unexpected. I had some dollars left, and it was pointless bringing them home given the exchange rate, so decided to drink rounds of shots instead.

I’m not entirely sure what they were, as Melissa would say she was up for ‘anything’, but then go on to list what the shots shouldn’t contain, so I believe they were ‘something sweet but strong’. There was definitely rum, pineapple and jager involved at some point. This fine lady made them up for us.

I lost control of the camera at somepoint, so I’m in more than my fair share of these again. Not many people can operate the manual focus f0.95 lens very well… Although Caroline was an impressive exception, it must be said.

Like European countries, drink measures over here are larger than they are at home – partly because of the Weights and Measures Act, partly because they pour their drinks by hand, and partly in line with the fact they’re more expensive. As a result, tanking the booze in a similar fashion to how one would in Glasgow led to much quicker intoxication than usual. This is okay, because I had stupidly promised to join in the following, and required Dutch Courage:

Yes, karaoke.

All the days of being in a band were put to good use as myself, Melissa and Caroline sang none other than I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers. I think I may even have shouted “Goooodniiiight Alabama”, but I can’t be entirely sure.

…and so we finished the two weeks as we started them – drinking at the karaoke night in the Garage, Mobile, Alabama – except this time as friends for life.

I’m gonnae miss ya bastards.

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