While he was teaching English in Japan, fully intending to return to his native Scotland at some point, Neil Ferguson met an American who was teaching there too. She then returned to America and, having fallen in love with her, Neil decided to come to the States and ask her to marry him. He’s now been here almost 14 years.
The best part of being here for Neil has been his wife and kids. That, and meeting new people, experiencing “fantastic” cities like New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. At the moment, Baltimore is home for him but, as he says, “Who knows?” And he adds, “It’s wherever my immediate family are, but in an ideal world it would be Scotland.”
Being in the States has made Neil realize just how much he took Scotland for granted. He misses sarcasm as competitive sport … decent public transport … long summer evenings where it doesn’t get dark until midnight … British spring and autumn. And he misses the arts in general, “which seem to be in a far healthier state than here,” he says. When he first came to the States, he was a full time arts journalist. Then, print media began a steady decline, and he’s back to freelancing and working at the Ivy Bookshop.
In light of the current administration, Neil, who has a green card, is feeling more Scottish / less “American” than ever. He was completely taken aback at quite how Conservative (with a capital C) a huge swathe of this country is. “I find the whole God and Guns brigade pretty mind boggling. See also: climate change denial as a badge of honor and the all-pervasive sense of uber-patriotism. I’m reminded on a weekly basis just how European I am.” Although he finds America a lovely country (most of the time), he also believes that it has a ludicrously over inflated sense of self. He’s found that one of the most difficult things of being here has been “frequently encountering well meaning Americans who assume that I’ve come to the U.S. to pursue the whole ‘American Dream’ malarkey, and are mildly flabbergasted that I don’t get all misty eyed at the very sound of The Star Spangled Banner.”
I think we can safely say that Neil is homesick for Scotland. His chosen image means “home and happy memories.”