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Coming To America--Some Personal Observations And A Strange Incident

Coming To America--Some Personal Observations And A Strange Incident

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Published by Devon Pitlor

A short memoir about doppelgangers and love.

A short memoir about doppelgangers and love.

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Published by: Devon Pitlor on Nov 17, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/17/2013

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-1
Coming to America: Some Personal Observations and aStrange Incident
by Devon PitlorPART ONE
Having been asked the question far too many times about what I thought of the United States after my definitive arrival here in late 1987, I feel that myonly response can be that I was basically indifferent to America as whole. InFrance, we had been inundated with all sorts of projected Americanesquevisions: tall buildings, suburbs and the like, so nothing really surprised me.New York, where I began, looked like the New York that I expected it to be. Iwas neither happy nor sad to be in this country. It was simply a newexperience in a different venue. I was ready for that.I should say up front that I came here because of my wife, who has given meher total permission to use her name and tell anything that I consider relevantto this essay.And I think it will turn out to be an essay rather than just a straight memoir.Or at least I hope so.I was given a great deal of opportunity in the US which I would not have hadin France, as I did not succeed on the
baccalauréat,
which is the one and onlycriterion for entry into university and the so-called higher professions in mycountry. I came to the US, immediately enrolled full time in a well-knownuniversity (which I prefer not to mention here) and achieved an MA ineconomics within three years, taking college as a business rather than adiversion and attending summers and mid-sessions as well. I worked as aManhattan bartender and waiter, had a few adventures, and achieved a goalthat I probably never would have been able to reach in France.But what I really wanted to talk about is my wife. Her name was---then and
 
now---Meredith, which may surprise some readers who know that I hadmultiple affairs and was separated from Meredith for long periods of time, andthis by mutual consent, something that may appear to cheapen the relationshipin the eyes of some skeptics. I was a very shallow and, above all, independentperson who had many occasions to enjoy the company of other women. I havealluded to this before. My wife and I took trial separations from one anothermore than once. Today we are back together again, the kids have moved away,and we have more of an understanding and "alliance" than what is usuallythought of as a marriage. At least in the US sense.To arrive at the story I want to tell, I do indeed need to make some cursoryobservations about changing both country and social class. My wife camefrom what we generally call here the upper middle class---very upper. Andthere is no doubt that both she and her family, which did not readily accept hermarrying a foreigner, gave me a lot of support and help which I probably didnot deserve. I feel no guilt for this because at the start Meredith and I were sotightly bonded together that nothing could separate us. I fell under her spellfrom the moment I met her, and I know that she will admit that she felt thesame with me. Such passion, such obsession is somewhat juvenile, I know that.But at age 22 going on 23, it is what we truly felt.There is not a big transition going from a developed and prosperous countrylike France to an equally developed nation like the US, so the fervid emotionsthat some immigrants feel in arriving on these shores never affected me. Insome ways, I even considered the US primitive compared to France, especiallyin the areas of medical care and social services. But I don't want to getpolitical here. Because of Meredith, I decided to go for dual citizenship andmake the US my home. However, I never kissed the ground and thanked anysort of god that I had arrived.Lots of my habits were crude, especially in New York City, where we settled. Ismoked and drank too much even then, and I cared nothing about clothes, carsor houses. Living in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn was fine with me. Itresembled somewhat the world that I had grown up in in La Rochelle, myhometown. I wondered why anyone would ask for more. I never became amaterialist, and even today, although I have substantial savings and a good
 
income, I still live in a crowded neighborhood in Brooklyn and like it just asmuch as I always did. I think that for Meredith it has been different, but Ihave always been insensitive to many things. I would rather die than live in asuburb or worse in the country. Only the activity of a lively neighborhoodinterests me. I hate driving, although I have a car, and the best environmentfor me is where one can walk everywhere to satisfy one's needs.But I want to get back to the subject of love...or lust...or passion...or as we sayin French
éblouissement 
--which translates roughly as the state of being totallyenraptured by another person.That is how I felt for Meredith at the start.I was raised not to be possessive or prideful, but it delighted me that all headsturned when Meredith walked into a room. And I mean that for real. Noexaggeration here---especially since the core of my story will involve an episodethat I consider rather recondite and which may appear either exaggerated orfanciful to some readers.I guess you have to believe me completely (which is asking a lot, I know) tofully comprehend the story I want to tell.Okay, back to my arrival here briefly. I was the odd man out when it came toMeredith's Long Island family. I had a strong accent and dressed terribly. Iate strange food and was totally unimpressed with the USA. That was enoughto alienate me from them. My lifelong Existentialism didn't make me anyfriends either. It took me a long time to ingratiate myself to Meredith's family,and to this day, I am not sure that any of them do more than just tolerate me.Upon entering university, I became determined to master the one tool that Ibelieve separates the successful from the non-successful: language. In short, Iovercompensated for my lack of English, and naturally that has formed thebasis of my ability to write today. I was also a very hard and determinedstudent and worker. I had just a couple of years before returned from nineteenmonths of obligatory military service in Africa, where I saw very unusualpeople, sights and events---all of which dwarfed any strangeness that the UScould possibly exert on me.

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Mike Dietzel added this note|
A great story. The twist of the story makes me want to read more. I have to catch up with all the writings of this author. I am glad to find these back on Scribd. I want to find out what happens with the wife.
Devon Pitlor added this note|
Many thanks to those who have read and enjoyed this episode. I promise more to come.
MediaCrazy added this note|
I have always been interested in people having a double, but this is quite different in strange ways. Made me think for a long time.
Kym Star added this note|
Keep on with the bio stuff. We love it!!
Cambriana added this note|
Liked this very much. Sort of like getting to know you better. Nice.
Dani89Z added this note|
Let me be the first (I think) to say that this remembrance was great!! You have that personal touch as usual. Knowing you and your wife adds to my enjoyment. The truth behind these matters may never be known but we all need a little mystery.
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