My Love Affair

On July 4th, at around 5 pm, I loaded the boys into the car, against all best judgement, headed towards the community park where half the town had been and the rest of the town was heading towards.  We were determined to be there for the long haul. The final prize? The July 4th fireworks.

And it was definitely worth the wait.

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Waiting. We are in for the long haul

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If you know me, you know I am not blindly in love with this country. Oh hell no. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin come with the US of A. ’nuff said. But on some days, at the risk of being pegged as a traitor to my Motherland (and this bittersweet part may be hard to understand unless you are an immigrant yourself), lampooned for wanting to be somebody I am not, i.e. “The American” (and this dilemma may be difficult to appreciate unless you are a foreigner struggling with watching yourself becoming American, sometimes against your own protest and possibly against your own best judgement), maligned for turning my back against my own people (a la Miss Saigon who harbors the dream of “Coming to America”), or ridiculed for having drunk the Kool-Aid and embraced the American Dream (and not the kind in which I become filthy rich but the kind in which I bellow out “We Are the World” like the baddest idealistic that I am), I love this country with all my heart.

This is something hard for me to admit and even harder to explain to folks back home. I am after all here in the US by myself. Admitting I am “Proud to be American” sometimes feels like a betrayal. I feel guilty. Embarrassed even. Am I becoming “uppity”, thinking I am better than they, whoever they are? On the other hand, I am prepared to slap a bitch if anybody attacks me thus since such criticism belies the assumption that being American is somehow better, more desirable, than being whatever. So you are the one with issues, not me. Take that, Booyah!

“American” is after all a social construct. Many current political, social and economical debates (and really, they all come down to who gets what) are even possible exactly because what and who is American is always up for definition and re-definition. And THAT, IMHO, is what makes this country different. Great. Lovable. Even though on some days you really do not want to have anything to do with it.

I love the IDEA of this country. I love the IDEAL of it that many so-called “real” Americans fortunately still believe in and insist on.

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"Give me your huddled masses"

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Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

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"From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome"

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“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
‘ With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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"I lift my lamp beside the golden door"

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The ideal is worth the wait.

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p.s. I am also in love with my Blackberry with which these photos were taken, except the last one which came from my husband’s newer and better Blackberry. Bastard.

Article by Absence Alternatives

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Holly B July 6, 2010, 5:57 am

    On behalf of Americans far and wide… I apologize for Glen Beck and Sarah Palin. What the hell were we thinking? And lets just forget that whole George W administration debacle.
    Holly B´s last blog post…If It Werent For The Landing Id Jump-

  • Miss B July 6, 2010, 6:48 am

    As an American who has spent time living abroad…I can honestly say that, in a very general and overwhelming sense, I am _not_ filled with any deep love for this country. (And I realize that leaves me open to All Kinds of unpleasantness and criticism, believe me.) For me, it’s mostly because it falls so breathtakingly short of whatever ideals might be hidden away beneath the surface. And people make the argument — people always make this argument — that so many other places are worse, more flawed (or indeed, the general argument is that _every_ other place is worse, and/or more flawed, or at the very least, equally flawed). I will certainly not try to argue that point; it’s absolutely a truth. And to that, my only response is that just because there are worse options, that alone does not turn an unsatisfactory option into a great one. At least, it doesn’t for me. Though I suspect that your attitude here makes you a somewhat more evolved human being than I — and I actually mean that, I’m not being snarky — and that this is another example of how my uncompromisingness (look at me, making up words!) and overwhelming cynicism (Though really, isn’t that just another way of saying idealism? Because what is a cynic if not a desperate idealist who is just constantly shattered by the fact that things are not actually ideal?) sometimes (often) Makes Things Difficult.
    Miss B´s last blog post…A Tattoo Of A Daisy

  • Maureen@IslandRoar July 6, 2010, 7:18 am

    I think the most patriotic people are honest enough to have problems with the country, yet love it despite its many difficulties. I feel like that too. And I love how the vast majority of Americans feel, like you described, in love with the IDEA of America, and trying to hold true to that.
    Great photos, btw!
    Maureen@IslandRoar´s last blog post…Spin Cycle- Poetry

  • TheKitchenWitch July 6, 2010, 7:21 am

    I agree–this country is far from perfect, but it’s my home and I love it. The pictures are vintage Americana–gorgeous.
    TheKitchenWitch´s last blog post…A summer tradition- Breakfast Popsicles

  • Justine July 6, 2010, 7:25 am

    I wanted to write a similar post but then I thought, who would want to read about an immigrant’s ode to this country? With your post I realized, I do! I know it’s a cop out to say this but it’s true and I can’t help it: You took the words right out of my mouth. Except it came out more eloquently here.

    Thank you for this reminder of sorts. I do love this country, and I’m here for the same reason as you. My American Dream is ever evolving but for now, I’m exactly where I want to be. And it looks like you are too 🙂
    Justine´s last blog post…A holiday of lemons- surprises and hearing loss

    • Absence Alternatives July 8, 2010, 9:23 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. I feel the same way about quite a few of your posts too!

      You and I.

  • Jennifer July 6, 2010, 8:26 am

    We are a country that can disagree. Where a man who ran for presdient can go to a country where we wage war and publicly disagree with our president. We are corrupt yet we are evolving. We are checked yet free. Our “Big Government” is run by many, many people…..our people. We have the highest number of immigrants of any country in the world. I am proud to be an American. (Although I would love to live in New Zealand;) Great post!!
    Jennifer´s last blog post…pedi-Geriatric 4th of July

    • Absence Alternatives July 8, 2010, 9:27 pm

      Although I hate it when people use “racism” exhibited in the other parts of the world as an “excuse”, I do know that despite all its fault, this country, at least on the surface, tries to stand by “multiculturalism”. I have a friend who was born in Germany with parents that are German and Syrian, and he still needs to prove his “Germanness” everywhere he goes.

      • Absence Alternatives July 8, 2010, 9:28 pm

        Ooops. Didn’t mean to say which country is better than which. Everybody has a baggage. 😉

  • Mary Lee July 7, 2010, 1:15 pm

    Girl, you sure know how to turn a pretty phrase. This has much to ponder. You made some excellent points.

    Pictures are wonderful. Why does HE have the new Blackberry when it was YOUR birthday? Buy yourself a bigger and better one. It’s part of the American way.
    Mary Lee´s last blog post…DNC Coming to NC We’ll See

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