Thanksgiving has come and gone, my third in England. Since most of my expat friends have returned to their former homes, I am now continuing the good fight and hosting my very first Thanksgiving dinner. It has become a synthesis of different cultures and traditions where sweet potato pie sits easily next to Yorkshire pudding and curry. My Thanksgivings have become a reflection of the multiple identities I feel as a traveller. My homes have been numerous, bits of my heart and memories remain in New York, DC, Maryland, Philadelphia, London. In a talk at the New York Public Library, one of my favourite writers, Zadie Smith, discusses the multiple voices that individuals gain as they move through different spheres and environments. I feel this sense of multiple consciousness (perhaps an expansion of double consciousness) grow the longer I am here. America has become a land both innately familiar and abstract; I have become used to discovering news in English broadsheets and American blogs, which sometimes creates a strange dissonance of voices and understandings. I realise that despite my stubborn urge to stay on top of American pop culture (especially much of black American pop culture), I am becoming less aware of what happens there and more immersed in the minutiae of pointless and interesting pop culture of Britain. My voice is changing the longer I am here, American idioms and slang that once reflected my background as a black sub/urban Northerner with Southern parents are slowly melding with English phrases and European mannerisms. Even the way that I approach words have changed as my mind is jostled by American and English pronunciations. Sometimes it’s as if I’m straddling two worlds, that of my past and my present as marked by different semantic landscapes. The longer I live in London, my lovely new home where memories are constantly being composed in the nooks and quiet corners of the city, the more I come to appreciate this cacophony of voices and paths that have led me here.
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