Finding America

Me and Tarah

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Dear Indiana,

I am writing to formally declare that, after almost eight years residing in your pseudo-rectangular borders, I am moving on.

I want you to know that it's nothing personal; my wife and I just need a new challenge; we need a place more in line with our ambitions; crucially, we need a place where trains—and not just those of the freight varietyare a thing. This is why we're moving to Chicago.

But don't think for a minute that I will forget all of the good times we've had. I will forever recall that first night, on November 10th, 2008, when I commuted from Indianapolis Airport to the little town of Anderson. The latter's neon lights had been so captivating to this fresh-faced expat, even if the illumination signified Burger King, Holiday Inn, and Blockbuster.

Incidentally, it's such an agonizing reminder of the rapid passage of time that Blockbuster is now all but a footnote in the history of American consumerism. I've been here so long that I remember renting the 2009 Robert De Niro film Everybody's Fine from that now-defunct store in Anderson.

But while that faded Blockbuster sign—no longer a member of the neon family—remains a shrine to what went before, my own gaze is set very firmly on what is to come.

Chicago is a city of immense size, dwarfing your good self in population, area, and height (at least as far as its architecture is concerned). You'd be forgiven, then, for thinking that such a move might prove a mental challenge of equal proportions. The truth is, I rather get the feeling I will fit into Chicago as well as a glove fits into a glove compartment. The irony of that comparison, by the way, is that I will no longer have a glove compartment: we're getting rid of our vehicle.   

Indeed, the thought of not owning a vehicle and relying on Chicago's public transit system was one of the chief motivators behind the move. You have served me well, Indiana, but let's be honest: given that you are the second-largest capital city in America you don't boast a particularly comprehensive public transit system. I've warned other potential British expats on numerous occasions that America in general is simply not, unlike the UK, a land connected together by mass rail service. My hope is that this will eventually change.

But, sub-par public transport notwithstanding, there are things about you I will miss in abundance. How could there not be? When you live in a place for more than five years, parts of it devour you like ants on an ant hill. Perhaps that's not the kindest analogy; after all, your central region is not noted for its hills.

I will miss friends and family. This of course goes without saying. If there is a drawback to living a somewhat nomadic existence, it is that the people closest to you often become furthest away. There is no finer example of this than the people I have left behind in England. But your people—upholders of the term Hoosier hospitality—will be missed in equal measure. For it is precisely their hospitality that has made living within your borders such a heartwarming chapter of my life. And some chapters are worth re-reading every now and then.

I will miss the low cost of living. Chicago might not quite eat away at your wallet on the same level as London or New York, but it is nonetheless quite a leap to go from a $530-a-month apartment to a $950-a-month apartment. (Begin shameless plug) Even more important, then, that revenue from my YouTube channel picks up (end shameless plug). I will forever be thankful that you provided my wife and I with this financial platform, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the recession that accompanied our move.

In all, I will simply miss your day-to-day existence. That's not to say you will vanish the moment I cross the Illinois state line; I just mean that you will likely retreat, as Blockbuster did, to the back of my mind for a while. But that's okay; because unlike Blockbuster, you will stillI assumebe open for business. 

And so, I'd sooner not conclude this letter by rattling off a laundry list of sentiments; rather, I will finish by simply saying "cheerio!" I cannot think of a more appropriate salutation for a state that remained so fascinated by my British vernacular. 

A British Hoosier  

Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Click the red button below.

Laurence Brown is a British man writing his way through the truly bizarre world of America - a place he sometimes accidentally calls home and a place he still hasn't quite figured out after seven years. Thankfully, his journey is made 12% easier by the fact that his accent makes him sound much smarter than he is. For evidence of this, subscribe to his popular Lost in the Pond web series over on YouTube.


  1. Will look forward to you coming to the Windy home town.

  2. I have lived in Bicknell; IN., Indianapolis , IN., Anderson, IN. and Petersburg , IN. Funny ,you just missed my uncle from Derby(Spondon). He came for an Indiana wedding,his nephew,the hotest time of the year!!! He has visited IN,Nv., Kentucky, Ten., Ill., and CA. He is my mother's brother. She is from Durham. Coming to the U.S. A. from England takes a bit of adjusting. Wasn't so bad when you could cruise the QE-I or Queen Mary. Of course you would have to be a dinosaur to know that. How long are you planning to live here ? What brought you here?

  3. As a Brit living in Indy, I agree that there is such a thing as "Hoosier Hospitality" you can always come back and soak some in. Wishing you continuous running buses and trains, and look forward to hearing about your new adventures in "The Windy City"!

  4. Trains and planes are good things. Automobiles less so. Cars are expensive in payments, upkeep, insurance, etc. Who needs the hassle? As an American, I would be frightened about causing a car accident in the UK by going the wrong way. I can imagine many British people outside of the UK probably feel the same.

  5. Well welcome to Chicago. I grew up in Chicago proper and now live in, yes, Indiana, but right across the state line in Hammond. I'm well served by commuter rail into the Loop. Plus, I'm more in Chicago than I am in Hammond. Usually I tell people I sleep in Hammond and live in Illinois.

    The lack of decent public transit is one reason I wouldn't move to Indy. I've been there many times and have friends there, yet no trains makes it a real challenge to live there.

  6. I lived in Indiana also, although I'm a Missourian, so that's a tad different. Although good luck with that train thing. America is so vast and irregularly traveled it makes it difficult. Although, there is a wonderful train from Chicago to St. Louis that makes it a nice getaway, and if you want to see a little of Missouri's Rhine Valley, you can take Amtrak from St. Louis to Hermann, MO. You're right, America IS a little crazy. There are many languages and even some unusual sub-cultures in the middle of nowhere(I am a result of the German sub-culture in Missouri). I suggest also visiting Nebraska and Kansas, where they have pumpkin patches where you pay according to an "honor-code" and leave money in a bucket in a field. That should entertain you. There are many great places to visit. And this is coming from an extreme Anglophile, who lives as a British existence in Missouri from a Germanic town.....only in America.

  7. Hello my name is Jesse I'm from southwest indiana, I like what you do I like that you have good things to say about this country. I was born and raised here but, I have a Latino American background, I'm white , for the record, indiana will miss you for the record as well in the south some refer to British as reds or redcoats still , I travels in the south I have the murmured voice of a southern man and no one believes that in southern indiana we have Amish , Google it they are folks withoutodern means. They travel with horse and buggy ,they don't own cars , cellular phones or tractors, it's like little house on the prairie it's a must see in my area. Nice chattin' jesse

  8. A belated welcome to Chicago from one Brit to another - although my wife and I moved to Houston four years ago. And yes, after four years of this open air sauna we are both homesick for the The Windy City.
    I only discovered Lost in the Pond today and have enjoyed checking out your videos and writing this last couple of hours when I should have been working. I like the 'British newcomer' angle, and it's something I could have been doing when I first came to Chicago sixteen years ago at the tender age of 43.
    Keep up the good work!


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