Like a sunrise, a new year brings renewed hope. In my case a new country to live in for the first part of the year, the United States of Ummerica. I’ll be bouncing around for a few months in California, Vancouver, Chicago and then finally New York, with side-trips to Washington DC and Philadelphia too. A busy two months, yet just four days in, I’m already experiencing a slice of Americana: I’ve watched my first ever Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune shows (they were on and I was in the room, that counts!); a package was delivered by a friendly UPS guy just like in the movies, never mind that he got the incorrect address; I accidentally turned on the garbage disposal in the sink and almost wet my pants at the noise; I’ve exercised down on the sandy beach and admired players shoot hoops like in White Men Can’t Jump; and I’ve watched a poor bastard too impoverished to afford his groceries of soda and milk, give up the soda at the check-out, then forlornly surrender the milk when he didn’t even have the requisite dollars even for that. The American Dream indeed.
Moving country does mess with the sleep cycles a little, and despite my insomnia abating in the last few months, it has reoccurred in Los Angeles two days in a row. I had recently been channelling my inner ‘anti-Rocky’ – instead of getting up from the canvas, I’ve been steadfastly embracing the horizontal, ignoring the belligerent brain demanding to discuss topics of no import. Knowing that 2.30am was not an ideal time to discuss anything, I was thankful my mind eventually acquiesced to my pleas after a few hours. It was with some surprise that my head cockily woke me up at 12.30am the next night for another chat. Dear Mind, that’s not quite what I intended . . .
In trying to be more active to help the insomnia, I’ve joined the gym out here and tried to get some more exercise. Visiting the outskirts of Los Angeles with friends, we scrambled down a meandering pathway to a very British beach - not a grain of sand in sight - near the Trump National Golf Course, and watched the massive Pacific melt away in a glorious afternoon sun. It’s a terrific place to view the world. I couldn’t help but think of home though: ten thousand miles away lay Australia, a nation fighting its own battles in some horrendous bushfires. I’ll be hoping for the best for my friends and their families over the coming weeks and months, that the smoke which dogs the skies will lift. Incredibly, this smoke has even reached New Zealand, fifteen hundred miles away. Out of the darkness, there will be light. Or at least we hope so, and that’s probably the key word: hope. Hope for a country, it’s people, for all people.
In a beautiful gesture that showed me the way forward during my time in America, I recall the bar set by my friend in Los Angeles back in that supermarket. She didn’t think or mull at seeing a guy in penury unable to afford his groceries, but immediately paid for the milk. There is hope still. It might not be the American Dream, but from little acts of kindness maybe we can all sleep better.
Note: There is a lot of information at the moment around the bushfires in Australia, but since pictures tell a thousand words, please have a look at the BBC link here. If you’re interested in donating funds to help those in need, HarpersBazaar have handily created the below links:
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