To say that my view of America used to be narrow is an understatement.

Before the age of 21, my experience of the country consisted of trips from the UK to New York, Cape Cod and California with my parents.

With the exception of a detour through North Philadelphia, during which we drove past what was either a carjacking or a group of teens helping a driver remove a tyre (we didn’t stop to ask), I had never seen the grittier side of the USA.

Dispelling the idea that my life might have been so much better had I been born on the other side of the Atlantic was one impetus behind some of the trips I’ve taken to the US since those days. Another was to find what travel writers are wont to call “the real America.”

For the longest time, my idea of America was something like Main Street USA: manicured, perfect, and overly optimistic.

Or, in other words, it was bullshit.


Note: Everything I write here is based on true events. Some names and details have been changed to protect identities, and certain details may have been embellished or distorted by the presence of whiskey and White Claws. 

But, to the best of my memory, this is how it all happened.