Final thoughts and thankyous

00:24, Oct 18 2013

Endings are never easy. Only movies have tidy endings. Life is messy.

There were too many big points I wanted to make to finish but emphasising any one over the others seemed disingenuous.

Instead, to sign off I want to talk about five smaller moments from my day yesterday that speak to the familiarity, homesickness, frustration, weirdness and joy of making a home on the other side of the world from where I was born... and in America, to boot.

1) I went from my apartment in Oakland to the nearby BART station and into San Francisco for a meeting. I navigated over 2 kilometres of city streets each side of a 15-minute train trip, out of reflex. There was no uncertainty, no joy at finally knowing my way around a strange city. There was only the unacknowledged comfort and unspoken, mundane familiarity that comes when you've begun to call a place home.

2) My sister and her husband donated to my Kickstarter campaign to turn this blog into a book (which I implore, near beg you to do, even). They donated under my not yet two-year-old nephew's name and used a cute photo of him. I haven't seen him for seven months and he's turning into more of a little man every time I lay eyes on him and almost in the same moment I felt entranced at what a lovely, sweet thing he was becoming and severely melancholy at all I'd missed in his life.

3) I went to the gym in the evening and while I did my time on the elliptical I tried to watch Piers Morgan interview Anne Coulter (two of this country's most abhorrent media figures) and debate whether Republicans won the shutdown (because crippling a country needs to have a winner). In the other half of a split screen a vote count was kept as the House weighed on whether to reopen the American Government and raise the debt ceiling for just a few more months. The contrast between Congress voting to kick the ball down the road again and such an epic, flatulent, weakly combative meeting of empty rhetoric in Morgan and Coulter's conversation made me desperately uneasy about how a life in this country will turn out.

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4) I got home from the gym to find the lobby of my apartment building completely decked out in Halloween stuff: pumpkins, skulls, grim reapers, the works. Walking home in Oakland at 7pm now that it has started to get dark earlier and earlier isn't the most relaxing thing in the world. I didn't appreciate hopping into the elevator to be met by a spooky skull protruding from the walls of such a tight space. But Americans are weird like this (and other ways). People of all ages just lose their minds for Halloween.

5) As I contemplated writing this blog, LP and I ate the last of my birthday ice cream cake in silence, enjoying the unspoken bliss of experiencing something great with someone great. Sometimes we stopped and smiled at each other. I ate too fast.

It's hard to end well, because somewhere in these five very different moments is a snapshot of everything I've tried to say in some way these last two and a bit years.

I live in America and most of the time it feels like home. I'm happy here but there are people half way across the world I will always miss.

My America has love and joy in it and amusing bewilderment and sometimes very real fear and frustration.

Getting to know this America and building it out is a voyage that doesn't end with this final post. America is my home but living here will always be an adventure in small ways.

I can't end this blog on a single note, because there're just too many notes, you know?

***

I'll miss writing this blog in more ways than I won't miss writing this blog.

In some ways writing it these past years has served as a sort of therapy. More times than I can count, I've sat down to write about some of the more esoteric cultural stuff around moving across the world and found myself realising larger things about myself mid-post and changing course.

I'm indebted to you, whoever you are, for reading, following along, commenting and writing to me from time to time.

Turning yourself over to interacting with an audience on a frequent basis - ostensibly strangers - is a funny business. It's occasionally very frustrating and surprising. But much, much more often than it isn't, it is hugely rewarding.

My wife, LP, deserves a pretty huge high-five for having tolerated hundreds of dinner table rants that ended up serving as crude conversational rough drafts for future blogs.

I'd like to thank Nick Barnett, Stuff's outgoing Blogs Editor, for being a tireless editor and Voyages in America advocate. Blog on the Tracks' Simon Sweetman was a big part of why I took a stab at doing this in the first place and has been a great sounding board through the years. And my Mum was always the best in the early days at liking posts on the Voyages Facebook page that no one else had yet, to make me feel better.

I'm sorry this had to end, but it's part of being a lone wolf in a media climate where you are increasingly operating within shrinking real estate. It is what it is.

I had my first conversation today about whether this could be resurrected somewhere and I don't know what will happen. My Voyages in America page on Facebook will continue in full swing and I'll be sure to update you there and keep a mini-dialogue going.

I'm also, as mentioned, running a Kickstarter to turn this blog into a book and that remains the current best way to ensure I keep on this path. I really do encourage you to chip in. We've made a wonderful start, but there's a long way to go. 

Above all else, thank you for caring. This would have been a lonely enterprise without you.

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