I’ve spent the last four months living near Detroit and learning how to write and how to act. Well, on occasion, anyway. The rest of the time I have been falling for unsuitable boys far too young and far too pragmatic and far too JUST NOT RIGHT for me; taking my own advice and saying yes to life until I had to beg for mercy, a new deck of Marlboro Lights and a raspberry-vodka martini, and trying to be introduced to new people with a title other than, My Friend Laura From England.
The only time my accent has gone unquestioned is within the circles of Theatre People who presume that I am either just as pretentiously attention-seeking as they are or practising for my latest role. I actually had a full ten-minute conversation with one chap at an audition. “So, is the play you are reading for set in America or England?” he said on hearing us do a read-through. My reading partner looked at him. “Erm, either I suppose. It hasn’t been specified.” “Oh,” the guy said. “But you are American and you are British?” I looked at him. “No, I AM British,” I said. “But you are American?” he asked my partner. “Yes. But she is actually British,” he added. “Yes, yes, you’ve got quite a good accent there actually,” he told me. “Bravo.” “No.” I said. “I come from England. I’m an exchange student. This is my real voice.” This fella looked at me quizzically and then the whole studio heard the penny drop. “You’re not putting that accent on, are you?” he finally said.
A lot has been lost in translation over these weeks. Sat in a Mongolian restaurant one night, I asked the waitress what bottled beers she had. “What?” she said. “What bottled beers do you have?” I repeated. “Beers in a bottle?” She looked at me blankly and replied, “We don’t sell that.” The next time I saw her she was delivering a Bud to the guy at the next table. A bottled bud.
That same night we headed to the bar next door. “What bottled beers do you have?” I asked the barman. “What?” he said. “Bottled beers? Beers in a bottle?” To be honest, I had probably given up before I had started. My (American) friend lent across me to get to the barman’s ear. “BODDLE-A-BEEEER!” she cried. “Oh! Bodd-le!” the barman exclaimed, “You have an accent! Are you from Ohio?”
I have felt like I’ve missed quite a bit at home whilst I’ve been away. My old housemate has had a baby, and another friend has met the man of her dreams, and another friend got engaged and it took me two weeks to find out because I’m self-obsessed and not very good and keeping in touch. Well, that and the fact that I was probably drunk in a gutter/in bed with said unsuitable boys/procrastinating/putting off procrastinating by being drunk in bed with unsuitable boys.
It’s been a difficult realisation, that has, that the world does not actually stop when I am gone (and that most probably, I’m going to be that friend that EVERYBODY has. You know the one- you ask her to become your son’s godmother in the hope of getting her to direct her life toward something more meaningful than nights out at G-A-Y and claims of being on a ‘spiritual and cultural journey’, and then as soon as he is legal she sleeps with him AND his eighteen-year-old friends.) If anything, things change quicker and more dramatically and then it becomes painfully true that Wolfe was right. You can’t ever go home. A bit like how you can never have sex with an ex. If it’s good then you know what you’re missing, and you get depressed. If it’s bad, then you get depressed because you shouldn’t have done it anyway. I’m not going to lie to you though- I’d do it anyway. I’ve got some hot exes.
I don’t feel much different to when I did back when I had arrived. My hair is a different colour and I no longer pronounce the ‘t’s in words. I think I might have become a feminist, over here, but that is just because somebody called me one like it was a dirty word so I had to google it because I didn’t really know my feminist arse from my feminist elbow, and waddayaknow? There is indeed a label for sassy-pants-ness and feminist is it. Liberal feminist. So apparently there are other women out there that believe holding their breath for Mr. Right to come along and make everything okay is a bullshit way of being. I’m currently still shaving under my arms though, despite this revelation about myself. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not I change my mind.
So yeah. Like I said. I'm back in the YUK now. At my parents'. That's an adventure in itself.