I love New England. Every time we go, I drown in literature. Vermont or New Hampshire, driving through the roads, looking up into the mountains. Dreaming about a lifestyle in the forest, in a classic cottage, a large piece of land that you can only see through the trunks of the trees. An attic with a view to the White Mountains, a desk full of papers and writing implemements and a large living room with a the fireplace going. Peace and quiet.
I’m always amazed at how friendly Americans are. I’m not a small-talker, and I’m always caught off-guard when at the grocery store the cashier jokes and talks about the weather or makes a remark. When the waiter suggests that we should choose something different and share between my husband and I, instead of just “keeping to himself”.
My family lived in the U.S. in the early 80’s. I was six years old and I started first grade there. My two strongest memories from my first contact with the U.S. are:
Toys R Us and the school library.
I have visited the US on numerous occasions, for work and for pleasure but there is always aprehension. Especially since 2001. When I visited with my Mexican passport, it was always a hassle. I got finger-printed and my photo was taken more times than I can count. Fortunately I never had a terrible experience but I was always nervous. The US has had a major influence in my culture (in everyone’s culture in fact) even if it’s borrowed culture. In New England, part of the magic is precisely the hint of a British mode de vie, mixed with the decidedly American country lifestyle.
We stopped at a typical bakery. Proudly advertising they had won the state’s best donuts. The owners, two very chubby ladies that looked like sisters. The bakery was inside a worn-down cottage, with interiors so old they could fall apart any second. The smell and look of greasy, intensely sugary baked good, and the pots of coffee were not impressive, but we bought a donut. It was, exquisite.
We hit the outlets of North Conway. I’m not much of a shopper but I desperately needed new clothes. Again, friendly employees at every door. Although I run away from them, I couldn’t avoid the lady at the intimates shop who made a remark about my choice of undies.
We made the terrible mistake of having lunch at Applebee’s. We didn’t eat anything until the next day though we went to a grocery store to get some fruit and memories from when I was a kid came flooding back. Grocery stores haven’t changed much. Small towners like to catch up with the people ringing up their apples and ice-cream. (My God, this is a country of ice-cream lovers.)
I took my Fabriano Venezia sketchbook, one pen, my small Winsor and Newton watercolor set. And I just experimented and played. I bought a brush and sumi ink which will be yet another source of discovery.
Back in Montreal. A busy week ahead.