It was a mixed summer in London, sunny and much warmer than most, but on another front, well. Cool. British friends who knew us were, as always, wonderful; the rest of the population, who had no way of knowing us, noted our presence with chilly reserve. We were, after all, Americans, and at that point in history they didn’t like Americans much. We looked like intruders thrust on them by the same country that brought you the war in Vietnam.
Shopkeepers in suburban Barnes and passengers on the London underground couldn’t know that Joe and I hated the war just as much as they did, or that Faber had just published Armed Camps, which was my Why are we in Vietnam. We were Americans, ergo we must be brash, insensitive, militaristic types. Never mind that Apollo 11 was heading for the moon, Teddy Kennedy had just walked away from a fatal wreck in Chappaquiddick, leaving behind a drowned girl; less than a month later the Sharon Tate murders would confirm what many would not say but secretly suspected: that Americans were a crude, savage lot.
On excursions, we kept our three kids firmly in hand and tried our best to blend in, but we were foreigners. This was not our country. Until Apollo 11 landed and the first American entered the lunar landscape. It wasn’t our doing, but in a strange, wonderful way, we got credit all the same. Overnight five Americans in London discovered that they liked us—unless we had misread them, and they liked us all over again.
Kit Reed is an American author primarily of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her work is lauded as strongly feminist, and been nominated for the Tiptree award three times. She is currently a Resident Writer at Wesleyan University.