Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who I am

I have been composing this post for days now and it's still not the way I want it.

Great way to start, eh? Are you INTRIGUED?

But I can't wait because even though I'm a perfectionist I'm also IMPATIENT. So there we are.
First things first. Do you know what I am? An EXPAT. That's right. An EXPAT. It is the nickname - short for "expatriot" - given to all people living outside of their native country. I believe it dates back to Jeffersonian times. They say they gave Franklin the nickname when he decided to take up his revelry in France on a more permanent basis. ("They" are very smart people, don't you think? They know EVERYTHING. And aren't required to prove it.)

But I have never liked this name. EXPAT. It sounds ... negative. Like someone got fed up with their country and jumped on the next plane. They are NO LONGER a patriot. Used-to-be-but-not-anymore.

pa -tri-ot. noun. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

Friends and comrades - I am still a patriot.

Right now, sitting next to me, is "A Patriot's Handbook," a collection of songs, poems, stories, and speeches that represent America. It is 647 pages and I have read it many times. (To be frank, it sits on the computer desk for a reason. When my internet is slow it keeps me from frantically pushing the escape button - because that helps, you know.)
And here's the facts.

I cannot read the Declaration of Independence without getting chills.

I cannot sing the "Star Spangled Banner" without crying.

I cannot speak of our country without pride.

Old Glory is flying high in our yard right now - through the Brazilian sunshine or monsoon rain she flies -

I believe in America.
I believe in the idea of America.

I must have been asked exactly three thousand times if I like it better in Brazil or America. I look them in the eye and tell them I bleed stars and stripes.

I must have been asked exactly five thousand times if I still like Bush. Yes, I do.

I must have been asked exactly ten thousand times if I like our President Barack Obama.

Yes, I do.

Today I read his speeches. I looked at every picture, and


Because I believe in America.

I love that in America everyone on your street is eating something different for dinner. I love that every American has the right to vote - or not to. I love that Americans believe in justice, respect the law and villify those who don't. I love that in America we may have opposite opinions, heritages and educational opportunities - but we still live side by side.

Anna Quindlen: America is an improbable idea. A mongrel nation built of ever changing disparate parts, it is held together by a notion, the notion that all men are created equal, though everyone knows that most men consider themselves better than someone.... It was built of bits and pieces that seem discordant, like the crazy quilts that have been one of its great folk art forms, velvet and calico and checks and brocades. Out of many, one. That is the ideal.

Brazilians ask me what Americans eat. What we watch. What we're like.

I have no answer.

We are all different, but the same. All cut from varying fabrics but still part of a whole. Blacks whites gay straight left right. We may still fight. We may still judge. But we're still Americans.

And today, thousands of miles away from the National Mall, I am still a PATRIOT.


Kristina P. said...

Such a beautiful post!

And I didn't really know what expat meant, so I'm glad you explained it.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Yay, and we're proud to count you as one of us.

Deb said...

That was a very moving post. Thank you for your sincere patriotism... It was a very moving day today.

Heather of the EO said...

Great post, lady. I so hear you about working on posts because you're a perfectionist and then finally just going with it because you're impatient. We were separated at birth, I'm becoming more and more convinced.

No regrets on this post, I hope! It's beautiful. Thank you for sharing it on a day like today.

Erin said...

I got a little teary eyed. Thank you for your words!

Katrina said...

Today was a great day to be a patriot for sure!

Lara said...

Wonderful, wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I always think that expatriate sounds negative, too. When you look at it from a Latin standpoint, it's fine, it just means someone away from their home country. But the way it SOUNDS. Yuck.

Real Mom, Real Life said...

i would definately agree -- you are not an expat. I don't like the word either. It sounds like something someone would cough up.
America is the best!

Becky said...

Well, I for one, am glad you posted this today, even if it wasn't exactly how you wanted it.

What a wonderful day today is. It's a good day to be a patriot.

nikkicrumpet said...

Well I am surely glad that you found my blog. Because otherwise I wouldn't have followed you home and I would have missed the opportunity to read this beautiful post. I am so impressed...and I don't know how you could have made it better. You should be very proud of the way it turned out. It touched my heart. I am glad that there are people like you in foreign countries...who are setting a great example of what Americans should be!
And it's great to meet a fellow member of the church! I'm adding you to my blog list so I don't miss the next great post!

Jen said...

I'm convinced. You really are as patriotic as I am. And probably WAY more appreciative of the little things after living so far from home.

Great post by the way.

LisAway said...

I LOVE this post. I don't like the term expat either. I don't consider myself one at all. (part of this is because in Poland expats are supposed to be rich and snobby, and I am neither the latter (I hope) nor, unfortunately, the former.

You have put into words many of the things I have experienced. I don't know how to answer about what we eat when people ask. And about whether I like Poland or America better? Come on! I love Poland dearly, but living away from my country has increased my already soaring patriotism a hundred fold! (And I get weepy reading those early documents and hearing any sort of patriotic song as well.)

wonder woman said...

Holy hannah, I have tears in my eyes.

I can imagine that living away from America makes you appreciate it more. I thought of you last night as I opened a can of cream of chicken.

I wish I had a little bit more "perfectionist" in me. My house would be cleaner, and my posts would be better. =D

si tu veux said...

beautiful post. you are a great writer...in draft even. thanks for sharing. glad you are you.

in time out said...

oops...si tu veux is me too. thanks for reading.

Debbie said...

That is a great post. And I've never liked the word expat either. I do think it sounds negative.

trublubyu said...

great post!

charrette said...

Wow. Great post! So moving to hear about those events from outside the states, yet so very one of us.

I don't like the name expat either. Ex anything sounds negative (as in ex-wife).

Maybe try thinking of it in terms of its positive potential: You are also an...