First things first, I hate it when I get an idea for a blog post and I am still in the shower. Just saying.
This post is in reference to my FB status yesterday:
Living in Europe has made me realize how much I love the U.S., despite any flaws.
Comparisons aside, because I refuse to get into one of those debates on my blog, I think it is sad how so many Americans take their home-land for granted and I refuse to be one of them.
At this point, I’m going to not-segue into a little anecdote about when I was a teenager. I was working at the local grocery store, and the bag-boy asked me about my life. So I gave him a brief run-through not unlike the following: ex-hippie-ish parents, seven siblings, homeschooled, frequent cross-country roadtrips, life on either coast (and occasionally in a school bus), organic living that involved milking goats and grinding wheatberries and baking bread, keeping wild animals as pets, and reading ALL THE BOOKS because we never watched television. And he blinked – or his eye twitched (like yours just did), and said, “Wow, you’re like the all-American girl.” Now, to be honest, I know few Americans who’ve had such a distinctly - odd? is that the word? – background, but I see his point. Our childhood was an epic American adventure.
And so, having lived elsewhere for almost a year now, I just want to say: I miss my country.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like Denmark. I’m also writing a follow-up post relating a few of the things I appreciate about this country (not the least of which is all this natural beauty …she says, as she stares out the window of her third-floor flat … I am forever in awe at how the scenic colors POP – it’s like living in a movie).
I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to live in Europe, to expand my worldview, and to have first-hand experience when I say, “I lived in Europe, and it was great – but I love my country best.”
We were recently talking politics with some Danish friends of ours (blatantly ignoring the worldwide societal rule of thumb that you should avoid that topic and religion like the plague), and our host mentioned he was impressed that we could willingly admit to all our American flaws and yet still end the conversation by saying, “But it’s our country, and we wouldn’t change that.”
Say what you will: the government has too many career politicians for its own good, we have astronomical debt, the media is slanted, our pop culture is demoralizing the world, and we cater to instant gratification, poor diets, and often an overall lack of humility. And you would be right. We have many areas that need changed.
(I also hate it that when asked, “What food is purely American?” the first thing that pops into my head is McDonald’s. I usually settle on apple pie and peanuts and then distract them by singing a quick rendition of “take me out to the ball game,” yaddayadda.)
But the fact of the matter is, we have a greater number of things to love about our country than hate: freedom, security, education available to everyone, low cost of living and subsequently high purchasing powers, every type of natural landscape and climate, and a passport that allows us to travel anywhere we choose.
Not to mention that, despite what people say, the American dream is alive and well because we are a society that rewards hard work. If you’re willing to work for it, chances are you can obtain it.
(At this point I’ll add one comparison: we have infinitely better bathrooms than most of Europe. This may be irrelevant, but spend a year taking showers in the middle of your bathroom floor and you’ll discover a whole new love for American appliances. Like our HUMONGOUS tubs.)
All that to say, I never want to take my country for granted. I want Isaac to grow up with a sense of national pride – the kind you feel when you hear the national anthem and you realize you’re singing about your home.
We aren’t expats because we are no longer patriotic, but because we are currently away from home.