Posted by: Andrea | September 1, 2008

I’m a stranger here myself

Hello again, sorry about the slight delay since my last post.  This past week has been unbelievably crazy, including having to get one of my clients admitted to the psychiatric hospital on friday, which is a story for another time.  I’ve just lost all energy for anything at all except for doing a lot of napping and watching dvds.  I came home early from work today and just took a 90 minute nap, so I’m feeling a little more awake today and have even been able to consider writing up a few of the thoughts that have been swirling around my head.  We’ll see how we get on…

At my work our social work team works closely alongside another support team.  They are able to do a lot more hands-on work with our clients that we often just don’t have the time to do.  It’s one of those unfortunate things that most of us got into this field because we want to work with people.  But the majority of the work we do is managing care, not actually working with our clients.  One of the workers on that support team mainly works outside of the office so I haven’t had much of a chance to get to know him.  He works closely with my guy in the psychiatric hospital so I’ve spent more time with him over the past few weeks.  On friday we were in the car and pretty much just chatting away and started talking about travel.  Jason travels a lot in the U.S. (he’s been there ten times) and he started talking about how much he loves America.  He thinks it’s the best country in the world.  He also said he’d love to be American and that sometimes he’s more patriotic than Americans are.

For the majority of my adult life, I’ve either lived in Scotland or I’ve been actively working on moving here.  To be completely honest (and at risk of attracting flamers saying how awful I am) for awhile there I couldn’t honestly say that I was ‘proud’ of my country.  I lived back home for two years, from 2002-2004, right around the time that the war started and the government was at its most controlling and conservative.  I’m a die hard liberal and it was sometimes extremely painful for me to see where my country was going.  I’d listen to talk radio and I’d just get depressed.  I’d watch CNN each night and listen to Rumsfeld and Bush and it would make my blood boil.  I honestly didn’t want to live in the US anymore, I’d lost my ability to see any of the good stuff.  I sometimes felt like I was the only person who hadn’t gone insane.

Recently though, I’ve been feeling homesick.  I’ve mentioned this before on this blog and I’ve planned when I’m going to return home.  I’ve started to see that America IS my home and even though there are things I don’t like about it, it’s a part of who I am.  I’d never really stopped to think about that though, about how I actually feel about my country.  But in talking to Jason, in hearing him talk about my own country that way, I had to really face up to how I feel about it.  I said, yeah, but Bush is so annoying and we’ve done so many things so wrong in the past few years.  Then Jason said, but that’s just your government.  That’s not the people.  Needless to say, it made me feel both thoughtful and a little bit ashamed.

I’ve pretty much spent the majority of my time since I was twenty years old trying to figure out how to get out of America.  For awhile there I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to come back.  I only ever saw the bad stuff and I felt like I just didn’t fit in there anymore.  I was out of the country for 9/11 and when I came home, the whole place had changed and I felt like I’d missed out on something crucial to being American.  Like I wasn’t an American anymore because I hadn’t gone through it all with everyone else.  I felt like a foreigner so I just decided the best thing to do would be to move away for awhile.  It made sense at the time.

Jason really made me realise that for a long time I’ve done exactly what everyone else has done.  They’ve started judging America on the government instead of on what it really is.  I know as well as everyone else that my country has its faults.  I can’t stand some of the politicians.  Sometimes I catch myself talking really loud in public and I think ‘OH MY GOD.  I’m one of those annoying Americans.  I AM loud like everyone says we are!’  But if someone else can see the good things about my country, why is it so hard for me?  Yes, America isn’t perfect.  Far from it.  But when I was really thinking about my future and trying to decide where I want to go, it’s back home.  Because it IS home.

Maybe your country is sort of like your family.  No matter what it does or what stupid, idiotic, rash things it may get up to, it’s still your country.  No matter what you do, you can’t ever really get rid of it.  You also will always love it, because it’s a part of who you are.  I’m an American and I always will be.  And I do love it.  Because it’s my country.  It’s who I am.

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Responses

  1. Well put! An old friend of mine moved to London in 2003 and is dealing with a similar set of torn feelings. She married an English fellow and they always talk about moving over here, but somehow it’s always put off a year. And when she does visit home, the reality of our hometown shocks her because we’re not what she sees on national news.
    Just don’t forget to vote! Maybe then you’ll see things change before you come back.

  2. Don’t worry, I get my ballots super early because I’m registered for mail in. My mom would never forgive me if I didn’t vote! It does seem like things are gradually changing and it gives me so much hope for the future! I know I’ll always love my home town and that will never change no matter what happens. So at least I always have that!

  3. All of my friends who have lived overseas have one thing in common: they always said they loved the people. I never really got that until I moved to London in 2002 and I realized what it meant to have such respect and unconditional feelings towards people I didn’t know. When I returned home, I took a good look at the world around me and my feelings of pride intensified.

    Our government is a mess. Politicians have power but will always be selfish and will rarely act outside of their own self interests. The rich have the money and waste it; the poor muddle through; our senior citizens are neglected. Children are exposed to such violence and immoral behavior at a young age and it destroys them without ever giving them a fair chance in life. Racism is hateful and alive.

    But the American spirit is strong and as a whole we are a quality people. I relish the idea of foreign travel and living abroad, but I cherish what I know and I embrace the uniqueness of everyone around me.

    It’s perfecly natural for you to feel homesick. I imagine you’ll be homesick for Glasgow once you leave, too. The trick is to always carry a piece of home in your heart.

  4. The most interesting thing for me about my experience living here is that I’ve come to know so much more about Glaswegian culture, both good and bad. I moved here with such a romanticised view of Scotland. I only really considered the good stuff, not the bad. Probably in the same way that I only ever thought about the bad stuff about America, instead of all the good. But learning about both has really made me appreciate and love where I come from, in a way I didn’t expect. I can honestly say now that I wouldn’t want to raise my children anywhere else but America. I don’t know if I’d have been able to say that even a few years ago.


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