Reverb12 Day Five: Dream Destination
What was your dream destination in 2012 and why? It can be a town, city, country or region — real or imaginary — and doesn’t matter if you actually got there or not!
There are plenty of other places I would love to get to, even within the United Kingdom. But England stands out in my mind as someplace I’d very much like to visit. That isn’t unique to 2012, either. That’s been on my list for years.
Why? One certainly doesn’t choose England for the paradise factor. Not in the traditional sense of the term, at least. For me there are several factors that make England a dream destination. Some of them I can explain, and some I can’t. “Because it’s England” is not a legitimate answer outside of my own mind, yet that is what I could most easily say.
England, both now and throughout its long, rich history dances to a cosmic music that seems in some way in tune with my own. That doesn’t make England superior to other countries. It doesn’t mean England, (and later the United Kingdom) has always been on the correct side of history. It just makes it more familiar to me on a personal level then other nations I could visit as a dream destination.
As a rule, England doesn’t carry itself as a dream destination, does it? Of course it has an active tourism industry like any other place. That industry puts a great deal of money and energy into getting people to come visit. But unlike say Hawaii or Jamaica, England doesn’t scream, “Come be a tourist here!” It is simply England. Steady, knowable, unshakable England, as it has been for centuries. Keep calm and carry on.
Not that I’m ignorant as to the Westernization, or perhaps more accurately Americanization of some significant aspects of English society and culture. The atmosphere of England, particularly in places like London, is not as distinctly British as it was even 30 years ago. Still, it is England.
I don’t limit my dream destination to the cities, anyway. The small towns of rural England call to me as well. I don’t mean to suggest that I could make an entire life within such small, removed communities, (which are not immune to the cultural encroachment I spoke of earlier), but I long for the experience of living in and traveling to and from such places for a few weeks. Again, changes notwithstanding, there is still a particular British quality that one is going to find in such places that cannot be found anywhere else. A quieter, more thoughtful, polite, stoic, dignified introverted quality that isn’t the rule in any American city or town as far as I can determine.
There is also the history. There is deep, complex history in every country and region. But there is something about English history that just clicks with the way I think. Once more, it isn’t a superior history of a flawless people. On the contrary. But the tapestry of English history has been woven in a way I can follow with less effort for some reason as compared to other nations. Its history seems hewn from a similar stone as my own country’s chronology. (Which, I suppose upon reflection makes perfect sense.)
Then of course there’s the language. I’m a writer, and England is the birthplace of my native tongue. And though Churchill observed, (not without justification) that Americans and the English were a people “divided by a common language”, the majority of both nations speak English and can be understood by one another. This is yet another factor that makes England a dream destination for me.
Now this isn’t due to mere familiarity with the language. This isn’t callous aversion to those who speak something else. Rather a connection to the crucible wherein the very words I think, speak, write and perform on stage were forged. Though I’m American, much of what language is to me is owed to England.
If I want pristine tropical beaches, I will head for the Caribbean. If I wish to abandon my comfort zone and lose myself in exotic landscapes, various Asian destinations are probably at the top of the list. Yet if I want to explore something new, significant, iconic to the world and yet on one level somehow like going home, my dream destination is England. God save the Queen.