Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Severing ties

My latest column is out. It is also my last column. After more than six years of writing for the fine people at Internet Broadcasting I have finally decided to pack it in.

I have to say that I am genuinely sad about it and questioning the wisdom of the decision. I want to be a writer, but now I've abandoned a platform that had the potential to deliver an audience in almost every corner of the United States. On the face of it, I've pulled one of the most boneheaded moves in my long and tragic history of boneheaded moves. And it's entirely possible, in the next month or so, that I will wake up at 3 a.m. screaming and punching myself with the realisation of my irreparable stupidity.

But, as the Welsh are so fond of saying, there you are.

Ending the column feels like severing my last tie to America. I still have friends and family, but those are things that transcend. My mother-in-law struggles to fully comprehend that fact, but family, friends, these loves that we carry in their various forms, are nationless. Eric, for example, is American because that's where he lives. He likes where he lives but if he were to change nationality the intrinsic thing that makes him my friend wouldn't change.

Often, when I say that I am homesick, I am mixing my words. I am not sick for "home" but for those people and things that are in that place I once called home. I don't miss America but the people and things that are in America. A hungry person does not long for a refrigerator but the things contained within.

The column, however, was, in my mind, American. It was supposed to be geared toward an American, "family" audience and I would adjust my words and spelling accordingly. It was accessible everywhere, but philosophically very much in America.

I'm not explaining this very well. In part because I'm weary, and in part because I question the need to deconstruct my nebulous emotion toward a column that no one was reading. It's like those people who write treatises about why they blog. Who fucking cares? Don't analyse, do. I suppose, though, if you are analysing on your blog your reason for blogging, you are indeed blogging.

But I'm digressing. Considerably. Point is, that column felt like some kind of yarn tied to my finger and stretched across the Atlantic to help me remember what it's like to think and feel like an American. Or, perhaps, to give me legitimacy in claiming to know those things. What American living abroad is actually qualified to pontificate on that mysterious non-entity that is the average American? We are quite clearly not average -- we have passports, we've chosen to leave the country (but I'll still be on Radio Cymru next Wednesday to chat about the election results).

So, I took a wee pair of scissors and snipped that thread.

It was probably bad timing; I have been suffering devastating homesickness this week. See above for an explanation of what I mean by homesickness. Friends, family, smells, foods, places. Not mindsets or procedures or modes. Here is where I want to be. This is my home, so I can't claim to be homesick.

But at the same time, I feel somewhat disconnected from this place. In severing my final American tie -- in part to be able to dedicate whatever time I would have spent on that column instead on Welsh-medium writing -- I found myself questioning the dividend. In slowly shaking off my Americaness over the past two and a half years, what have I gained? My mother will answer this by listing achievements: "You're this close to getting a university degree, you are soon to be publishing a book, and so on. What the hell is wrong with you? The things gained are impossible to miss."

She will be right, of course. But there is still that melancholy of a thing lost. Even when it's something you wanted to get rid of.


Huw said...

I'm going to America in a couple of weeks; I'll bring you back some Fritos.

Huw said...

The opening paragraph of that blogging link irks me no end. When I used to mark essays, I would inwardly weep when any started along the lines of "The Oxford English Dictionary defines X as...."

Anonymous said...

You understand that your passport entitles you to come back some time, right?

~ the (former) editor

Anonymous said...

I can't read more than ten lines of that blogging article without nodding off. Blah blah weblog, blah ships, blah vernacular, yadda yadda diary. WE KNOW WHAT A BLOG IS!

Au revoir, Cope's column, you were great.

Pearl said...

Is there a smell I can send you, perhaps the odor of a carnival corn dog? Exhaust? Pine trees? The self-righteous stench the radio gives off every time Rush Limbaugh comes on? The smell of lilacs in the spring?

I do hope that you do NOT discontinue your blog here. I, personally, look forward to it.


Yr Efrydydd said...

An unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread...

Big Primpin' said...

Sorry to hear your ending you're column. Please enjoy my misuse of language.

Anonymous said...

That's a shame, I always enjoyed reading it. But as long as you don't stop your blog, I guess there isn't much to fret about though.

skyjump said...

Sunday, 2 November 2008
Well, young writer,
our 'parting of the ways' has come
sooner than I expected. I found
your 'words' by sheer chance years
ago and then, as now, a lot of the
times your words are like 'keys'
that fit into 'locks' and they
create excellent word pictures.
Since everything in this world has
a beginning, a middle and an end,
I knew our 'one way fellowship'
would (like the ending of a good
book) one day, would come to the
final page. It came too soon.
Oh well, "It's just another skydive."
Grace, Peace & Blue Skies to you
and the 'child bride.'

Anonymous said...

Keep Writing! I love it!

Anonymous said...

I was reading your column for the last 3 years, I enjoyed it and I will miss it.
I thought I would really miss you, but as it turns out you ARE still out there, more real than that little column you just said goodbye to.
I will enjoy looking through your eyes in the future on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Chris! I had to Google-search your name to find out what happened. I just assumed that some ignorant editor decided to drop you; but now I find out that you are leaving us of your own free will?! Ugh! Your column consistently brightened my day over the past few years; now, that little bit of sunshine has gone away. Still, I wish you happiness and nothing but the best on your path through the maze of life. - cb