America, how do we love you? Let us count the ways . . .
We love Manhattan in crisp wintertime, sunlight glinting off the Chrysler Building.
We love summer on Santa Monica beach, with its endless stretch of pale sand.
We love the rugged beauty of Arizona, the flat plains of Nebraska, the hip cool of Williamsburg and the exotic charm of New Orleans. We love the majesty of the Big Sur and the faded glory of Coney Island’s fun parks.
We love rifling through thrift stores in Cambridge, Mass, where generations of Harvard students have traded in their vinyl and departing professors have bid adieu to their bookcases.
We love bus drivers in San Francisco who assume we’re a couple just because we’re the same sex.
We love swigging champagne in The Bubble Lounge on Broadway or hanging out at the Chateau Marmont, the real Hotel California.
We love Barnes & Noble, Trader Joe’s, Tiffany & Co (but only on Fifth Avenue), ABC Carpet & Home. We love SXSW in Austin, Texas, and Sundance in Salt Lake City, Utah.
We love your good manners, your optimism, your get-up-and-go, your lust for self–improvement. We love … well, we think you get the picture. America, we love you.
We post-50s are the first generation to truly share the bond that spans the pond.
We’re not referring to the ‘special relationship’ that politicians always wheel out on state visits; we mean the real deal. We grew up loving the same things and we still do, now.
When we were young
We ached to visit America in the 1960s when we were children. Like you, our childhood selves cried when Bambi’s mother was shot; cowered when the Snow Queen vented her wrath; clapped when Pinocchio was transformed from puppet to boy.
We, too, spent our teens with Happy Days, Alias Smith & Jones and Starsky & Hutch. We had the Beatles, you had the Beach Boys.
Even now, you give us quality television – Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wire, Mad Men. (We trade you Downton Abbey – sorry.) And if you were thrilled by our latest Royal Wedding, we marvelled when your queen – Madonna – turned 50 three years ago.
In Hollywood, we still marvel at your great directors. (Your blockbusters often leave something to be desired, but we suspect that many of you are not so fond of them either.)
But where do you watch them? We gave you the internet (thanks to Sir Tim Berners Lee.) You gave us all the amazing software, hardware and content that has changed all of our lives so extraordinarily, and connected us even more.
Yes, we share so much. Including tragedy.
We can remember what we were doing when Kennedy was shot (at least, some of us can). We can remember what we were doing when Elvis died. And our own John Lennon.
We didn’t have a space programme, but the giant leap for mankind on 20 July 1969 shaped our lives as much as it did yours. We sneaked downstairs to watch the moon landing on our black and white televisions at 2am in the morning.
Getting to know you
Our older brothers and sisters were hippies and art students, listening to the Dead and the Velvets.
We wanted the Vietnam War to be over just as much as you did. And when it was, the 1980s and the 1990s were just fab. They were the years when we became so much closer. Cheap air travel and shared business interests meant our relationship was finally consummated.
We were no longer your long-distance lovers. We finally, actually, got to meet up. The Brits invaded New York, Los Angeles and everywhere in between. (We hope you didn’t mind us turning up mob-handed.) You came to expand your banks and buy our country estates.
Then Lockerbie bound us even closer together through shared trauma. A portent of the ultimate tragedy.
Here in the UK, we sat staring at our televisions, horrified and helpless on the afternoon of 11 September 2001. We wept for you, and for the world.
Somehow a golden era ended for us all. Nothing could ever be the same again. Except our comradeship. We went to war alongside you, and counted the cost together.
And now we’re like a couple married for many years. Love, affection (and occasionally…).
The maturity of our relationship reflects our maturity as human beings. We share music, literature, art and fashion. And 50 years on, we still discover new stuff together every day.
We’ve learned that we’re not old yet. With people like the late Steve Jobs as our models, we’ve found out we’re still engaged, influential, active – changing the world in a way that our parents’ generation never could.
Changing ourselves, too. We’re taking new jobs, starting new businesses, going on adventures we thought we’d left behind in gap year.
If our marriages have foundered, we’re embracing the single life or dating again. We’re coming out, cross-dressing, downsizing, upgrading, emigrating and going back to our roots.
But of course, there’s tough stuff. Like you, we took a hit on sub-prime. We rail against the bankers. We agonise about BP (and hey, you guys own 49 per cent…).
We worry for the planet that we’re leaving our children. We try to balance our pensions and kids’ college funds. And we look to you to help provide the leadership that will save our way of life. As you have for almost a century.
America, today you influence us culturally, economically and socially – and we love you for it. We particularly love the bit of America that was created by those of you born after 1960. The post-draft generation. The 50-justs. The punks. The Bloomers.
We think you love us back. We certainly notice when America wakes up, because every afternoon in London we see you log on to high50. And you’re welcome here whenever you like.
Read the reply America sends a kiss back