Home > The Monday Musings Column > Another postcard from America

Another postcard from America

I first discovered America through TV, then later through the movies. It was 1993, by which time I had turned 40, before I finally got here. On that first trip we arrived in Tampa in one of its legendary thunderstorms. We’d been en route for a long time and, with a delay in getting our bags due to the storm, I decided to drop anchor for the night. The next morning the sun was shining and we headed off from the airport across the bay and up US19.

Everything was instantly familiar in so many ways; the traffic lights swaying in the breeze, the roadside motels, many of the names of various retail and food outlets. “It’s just like in the movies and on TV” said a voice from the back seat. Blindingly obvious really, but it was, and much more so than, say, when we’d been to France or some of the other European countries.

Since that first trip I’ve been here more times than I can remember. We’ve been to many parts on both coasts and have owned a home here for several years. One of the things that we try to do is to get amongst the people rather than stick to the tourist haunts. That has led to a number of experiences that would each take up a 600 word blog, but the point is that you need to reach out to people, to listen to them and to ask them about their lives if you want to grow yourself.

Trying new things is fun anyway. I still have a list of things that I want to experience over here, but it has been a great joy to try some of the things that I’d read about or heard about. I’ve done this wherever I’ve been, here in the UK or abroad, and it has always paid off for me. Sure sometimes I’ve tried a  local dish and not enjoyed. I can recall the huge disappointment of trying pastrami on rye in New York, for example, I just didn’t like it, but that has to be balanced against the Cuban sandwich in Miami, the chowder in Boston, the Cioppino in San Francisco and many more.

Sporting events are huge over here. At one time we used to rent a villa over on the gulf coast of Florida and I became quite a follower of the local high school football team. They would draw half as many again more fans for their home games than Swindon Town could manage in what was then the second division of the football league back home. And this was a school team. This week I was talking to some USF students about their upcoming came against Syracuse. As it turned out the Bulls lost, but the attendance was over 41000. Eat your hearts own premier league. Motor sport has long been a passion for me and I’ve been able to attend several races over here, including the Daytona 500 (Indy is still on the to do list), but the scale is again vast compared to back home. Over the last three years or so I’ve started to get my head around baseball enough to at least follow most of what is going on.

These things are all so much fun. They are family events and the organisers make them work for the fans. And the fans are just fans; who they are where they live or work doesn’t matter. At the track or the game they are fans and they get to enjoy the event for the spectacle that it is.

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