Last night Daphne came round for a visit and as a captive audience, I prised her eyes open with cocktail sticks and showed her some home video I'd taken of my first trip to America in 1989. This was because I'd gone to Florida and by going down the East coast and then up the West coast, I was showing her what she and Stephen could expect to see when they go over for their first US trip at the end of November.
Of course many things have changed in those intervening 19 years - and I don't only mean with my hair and body mass !! Funny how one has shrunk to almost nothing while the other has grown just as alarmingly. Speaking of size, it was noticable watching the video just how much gas prices have influenced the US car market over the years. They were well behind Europe in switching to smaller cars as gas prices were still relatively low until just a couple of years ago. Now it's very different and although truck sales still outnumber cars, fuel efficiency is much more of a buying criteria than it was back in 1989.
It was fun to see again the footage I took in a Ft. Myers gun store - something I mentioned in a long blog post last year. I'm still not sure why there wasn't a SWAT team waiting for me outside the store resulting in my first visit to America being my last.
It was also amusing to see the footage and hear my comments about sights that I now take for granted. Everything was so new to me back then. I took video of fast food outlets, shopping malls, road signs, police on bikes, white sand beaches, pelicans, motel rooms, palm trees, sun kissed bikini babes and basically anything different from what I was used to in the UK.
Little did I know back in 1989 that within a few years I'd have visited every state except Alaska and that going to America would be as normal for me as going to Scotland or Wales. In fact I'm off again in 2 weeks time and when I return to the UK at the end of March next year, I'll have spent 51 of the last 107 months in America.
No wonder I have trouble with immigration every time I go !
It was strange to see that 37 yr old looking out at me from the tv screen. Pre heart attacks. Pre middle age spread. Pre severe hair loss. Pre beard.
Most important......pre retirement. Of all the things that have happened to me, I'd have to put that at the top. Even the heart attacks haven't changed my life as much as being able to retire at 49. I'm not sure I'd still be here if I was still a working man as I never handled stress very well and that contributed to the main attack in 1992. Retirement has brought me a pretty much stress free life and when you add to that the opportunity to spend the winter months in Florida, then I think it becomes my top life changing event.
Wow, that was a lot of heavy stuff to come out of a little home video. I promise I won't watch any more for a while.