The Homing Instinct

DIA pan

I fly out of Denver International Airport today. The airport itself, an engineering and artistic marvel, is always a treat: the tent-like terminal pays tribute the indigenous Indians who called the Great Plains home and is a mirror image of the Rocky Mountains to the west.

Jan '10 London 002No doubt thinking that I should have my head examined, a friend recently asked me why I was going to London in February. I took her point. London is not the height of the tourist season: typically, London is cold, wet and sometimes snowy in February. And without forethought, I answered, “I’m going home.” My answer surprised me as much as it did her. Home? I am a United States Citizen. I own property here. I pay taxes here. My family is here.

I try to sort it out. If I am a U.S. citizen, how can I feel so at-home in England? Mentally, I am American; emotionally, I am English.

Speakers' Corner 2011

Speakers’ Corner 2011

As I mull the enigma, I have come to believe that my attraction to England, and particularly to London, is a matter of remove. Both countries have their contentious politics, but in England, I am one step removed. I can go down to Speakers’ Corner on Sunday and listen to the rants and raves, but I am buffered by my country of origin. Their rants are their rants, not mine.

In contrast, when I am home, closer to national and local politics, the rants and raves are in my face. Sometimes they are personal.  In England, the state of the National Health Service in interesting, but it does not affect me personally. In contrast,  issues surrounding health care reform in the U.S. gets my dander up.

Fourth of July Parade, Westcliffe, 2014

Fourth of July Parade, Westcliffe, 2014

At home in Westcliffe,   population 600 or   political issues pit neighbor against neighbor, and you are called to consider the definition of the word, “neighbor.”

The right to brandish a gun as you march in the Fourth of July parade is still an issue. Those who insist on their right to carry guns say that they are defending their Second Amendment Rights. The opposition feels that the Fourth of July Parade is a celebratory, family day and should not be politicized. Strong feelings on both sides pitch neighbor against neighbor.

More recently, the town is at-odds by the Custer  County Commissioners awarding the “Paper of Record” to The Sentinela year-young paper whose masthead claims that they are “The Voice of Conservative Colorado.” How an avowedly conservative paper can begin to represent a county-wide, diverse population of Republicans, Conservatives, Democrats, Independents, Greens, Socialists, and Tea Party members is beyond me. The commissioners showed poor judgment.

My photo of the young boy and his weapon chills me. This is my home? I don't think so.

My photo of the young boy and his weapon chills me. This is my home? I don’t think so.

How the commissioners could choose a partisan paper over the inclusive Wet Mountain Tribune with three times the circulation is beyond me. The decision makes me want to turn my back and run away.  I should be attending the public meetings designed to make peace between the warring factions, but I don’t do shouting, hissing, or booing. If we are a participatory democracy, should I not participate? It is a conundrum. I am torn between good citizenship and emotional good health.

I do participate… but at a remove. Letters to the Editor of The Wet Mountain Tribune are the best I can do. At home in London, buffered by the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll think about my next letter.

 

 

 

 

 

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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7 Responses to The Homing Instinct

  1. Brent says:

    Safe travel. The rabble will still be here,with their guns, when you return. Enjoyed this post. Thxs

  2. Ruth Steele says:

    Thanks, Doris. I too feel London is my second home. I lived in London a year. I am very comfortable there, and have the feeling I’m coming home when I visit. I haven’t thought much about why that is so. The part about being separate from the hubbub and emotional turmoil in Westcliffe makes sense to me as well. I like your statement, “I am torn between good citizenship and emotional good health.” Have a safe trip and enjoy.

  3. Robyn Wallerich says:

    Though I am writing from New Zealand, the land of the sane, I hope that you, Doris, Ruth, and Brent, do not give up your Custer Co. citizenship. We are among the few of our thinking who are actually registered to vote there!

  4. Doris–I’ve been following your blog now for at least a year. Enjoyed every post. Your topics and writing style are always of interest, educational, and raise my awareness. Thanks for that.. You may or may not remember me. I was your kids pediatrician for a few years when they were quite young in Penrose. Hello to you and Mark from myself and my husband. We followed your example and created our own blog (really a travelogue) at poolsmally.wordpress.com. Sharon

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Sharon!!!! What a nice surprise! Last I knew… a hundred years ago or so… you and Jon were in Hartford, Connecticut working the emergency room as I remember. I look forward to reading your blog and catching up.

  5. lisagaldalgibbs@yahoo.co.uk says:

    Thank you Doris for such poignant and lovely writing, and lots to reflect on, as usual.
    While one may not regard London in February as an obvious tourist destination, I will share with you that having just taken a walk in my local park, I am aware of spring in the lightness of air, blackbirds song and daffodils and snowdrops pushing through the ground. Quite enchanting.
    Have an enjoyable flight over, and welcome home!

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