From The Smart Set:
My local Nando’s in Kentish Town marks the turn towards the swimming pool and the Overground station. It is always crowded on Friday nights, but also on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for lunch and dinner. Certainly, some of my interest is purely neighborly, the comings and goings on the streets closest to home. My inability to pierce the magic makes it even more intriguing. But I suspect my complete captivation has more to do with my own malleable sense of self and the way the most mundane things become landmarks when everything is novel and strange. Over the past few years, England has become my home. Part of living overseas means learning the customs of the people, the minor bits and bobs that distinguish local from tourist. I have learned to pre-order gin and tonics for a show’s interval, how to say interval instead of intermission, how to queue endlessly without question, how to bleed a radiator. Whenever I fly home to California, I forget which side of the road the cars drive down; I bask in the softness of towels that are dried by machine; for days, strangers’ speech sounds shrill and jagged. I do not have an accent, but a cadence which ebbs and flows depending on where I am and who I am with, and it takes time for my language, my posture, to settle and re-assimilate. Still, I laugh too loudly. I chat too much with my local green grocers. I wear sunglasses no matter the weather. I am a Californian and not a Londoner, and these identities may move towards each other but ultimately remain asymptotic, the circles of a Venn diagram that cannot totally overlap.