Love it or leave it?

TTers weigh in on home sweet home, and the pride and peril of being an American today.


Salon Staff
January 28, 2005 9:41PM (UTC)

White House

Exiles or Expats? What if Bush Wins?

NWHiker - 08:30 a.m. Pacific Time - Jan. 20, 2005 - #760 of 783

I'm in mourning today. Turned off the radio and listening to Savatage, though in some ways a Requiem seems more appropriate. Maybe later.

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I'm a former expat, daughter and granddaughter of expats. I know what it means to leave. I'm hesitating, still hesitating. I wanted my children to grow up in the United States, to know where they belonged, unlike me, who, while American, is culturally French. Makes for a life of contradictions and never belonging. It makes for a whole different worldview. It's not a bad thing, but it can be an unsettling one.

For my children, I wanted a strong American identity, with a strong connection to the rest of the world. They are bilingual since birth. But I did want them to know that they had a connection, somehow, to this land.

And here I am today, as the boy-king takes office for the second time, in mourning for the country I love.

You see, I didn't have to come back. I didn't have to cast my lot in with the United States. It was a choice. I chose to move back here, to make a life here.

For the first few years back, I knew I could leave at the drop of a hat, that nothing could hold me back. My now-dh then bf would have probably followed me. But then I, former city girl who'd lived in cities -- big ones -- most of her life, fell in love with the wilderness. I'll never be able to fully explain. My love for the land, the forests, the mountains, the streams and glaciers, is such a big part of me.

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And so I put down roots, here in the Pacific Northwest. I feel, for the first time in my life, somewhat connected to the land I live in.

I don't want to leave.

But today I am in mourning for my country. We have taken the wrong path. A path that will lead to more destruction of the land I love, a path that will lead to the destruction, little by little, of what America has always been to the rest of the world. I don't want to be the world bully. Oh, I know, this country was never perfect, we've done our share of bad things ... but overall, the good more than outweighed the bad, the positives more than compensated for the negatives. We are teetering on the edge now, to where our contribution to the world will be more bad than good and I have no doubt of what will happen over the next four years of imperial reign.

And here I am, thinking about leaving again. Lots of leaving in my life. Waaaay too much. Always leaving, always saying goodbye. It's not easy not having a home base, a hometown with family, a place you know you can always go back to. I started making my own hometown, with my spouse and children. My own little corner of the U.S. where my children would always know they belonged. And here I am, ready to set all of us adrift, including my dh who is not a former expat and only vaguely understands the depth of this decision.

Oh, I know many who say, "Well, I never really felt connected to the U.S. either," to which I say, yes, I can understand that. But you are. There are roots you don't even suspect that you'd have to pull up to leave. It's always that way: When you leave you realize the ways you are connected to the place you've lived.

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Today, I'll mourn. I'll mourn the optimistic country with a spring in her step that I chose to come back to. I'll mourn the soon-to-be-no-more old growth forest of the Northwest and the pristine lands of Utah and the clean mountain streams (give or take a few giardia and other parasites, of course).Tomorrow ... I'll either make the decision to stay and fight for what I believe America to be, or I'll leave. Again.

Home and Away

The WORST part about the State of ...

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ReganC - 08:08 p.m. Pacific Time - Jan. 22, 2005 - #66 of 68

I'll cop to mixed feelings about Columbus, Ohio. There are things to love -- the Drexel theaters, decent Thai and Vietnamese food here and there, the Book Loft (oh heavenly labyrinthe of gray matter). It's a big enough city to have its own symphony, ballet, and a couple interesting theater groups. That said, it is also overrun with nauseating Uber-Consumer Soccer-Moms carting their 1.3 kids around in their tinted-glass suburban tanks, headset DVD players spewing SpongeBob. If you're a glass-half-empty type, as I tend to be when undercaffeinated, you can get quite a Sunday afternoon out of Columbus' different faces. Take a walk up Summit, or cruise the FAR South side (no, not German Village -- keep walking 'til you can't smell biscotti). Then, plop yourself down on a cushy sofa that lines the aisles of Polaris Fashion Mall, and wonder if the Romans saw it coming. Curdling at the edges of this creamy, frothy upward-mobility Frappucino, of course, is the World Harvest Church and its lookalikes ... fanning out, hanging out at the Christian Armory, making to-do lists of books to ban, sending out holy hate-rays toward any homosexuals in the vicinity, lining up to vote evolution out of the public schools. Don't let the iPods and Mini-Coopers throw you off ... you're still in Southern Ohio ... even when you're in Pottery Barn.

(On the bright side, the last time one of God's armies showed up to lower the air quality, their headline quote -- in response to our urban-Midwestern, gay-club-tolerating, Will-and-Grace-watching evil ways -- was, "You're a Sick City, Columbus!" (wiping away a tear). That just makes you proud, you know?

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