Scratch just about any American expatriate and you will find a (slightly homesick) patriot. For one thing, we are often put in the position of explaining our country to others. Doing that properly requires some reflection. We can’t just shoot our mouths off and wear silly red hats. No one’s going to buy that.
People want to know: why do American love their guns so much? How is it possible for a person to lose the popular vote, yet win the presidency? Why don’t you have decent trains? How can movie theaters be open on Christmas Day? Can you really name your kids whatever you want? And, I have a cousin in New York City, do you know him?
Anyone who has tried to explain American can clearly see that our country is kind of crazy. The vast majority of us have decided to love it anyway. In any case, if you live anywhere long enough to let the “honeymoon” wear off, you quickly realize that every country has some crazy. Do not even get me started on the some of the crazy, racist or sexist things I have seen and heard in Europe. As for other parts of the world, well, I have lived in a countries with even worse gun violence rates than our own, and others where witchcraft was considered a serious civic problem. So, there you go. Crazy everywhere, it’s just a question of type and (importantly) degree.
When we live on the surface of cultures, it’s easier to just roll our eyes and move on. We are just passing through, after all. But when it’s happening in your home country, in your family, so to speak (or maybe even literally in your family!) you can’t do that. You have to fight for what you love.
I happen to love this country. I chose to come back here, and I choose to set down roots in a community that I realize is pretty much perfect for me. I am happy here, though I am well aware that it is a liberal bubble. I grew up in a blue dot in a red Southern state,— that does give me some perspective! However, it is partly for that reason that I have hope that the majority of people in our country will be smart and decent enough to pull back from this ugliness. Not all of them, but enough.
Call me naive, but I still believe in America. I’ll keep believing until I just can’t anymore. And if that happens, I suppose I will pack up and buy my way into some differently crazy country. This time, it will be somewhere with sunshine, good food, and wine to dull the homesickness. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. But I won’t be happy about it.
Next week’s election won’t be that turning point. Not yet. But the next two years will be a hell of a lot easier to take if I can just see some evidence that I’m right about the direction this country is going. I don’t want to spend another shaky Wednesday scarfing peanut butter cups in my pajamas and Googling Italian villages that want to sell me a house for a dollar. I really don’t.
I’m far from the most active Resister, but I’ve donated, I’ve volunteered, I’ve protested, and I’ve written hundreds of postcards. I have no idea if any of it will make any difference, but I don’t care. We fight for what we love, in whatever way we can.
So, dear crazy country, please, oh please. Don’t go breaking my heart on Tuesday!