Sunday, November 09, 2008

Parents Dancing in Public

When it comes to being an American citizen living abroad, the actions of the US government have tended to make me feel like a teenage child watching his parents dance at a party. You may know what that is like because you have teenage kids yourself or you remember acutely your own feelings about seeing parents at a dance.

There they are, your mom and dad out there dancing in public! You just wish they'd stop. But they don't stop, they keep on dancing. They don't care you are dying of humiliation. Then you start to pretend that you're not with them. They are NOT your parents and isn't it sad when older people try to be cool like that. Now it seems that the US government's embarrassing dancing has stopped and I am no longer cringing. I'm feeling the love that has always been there but had been overshadowed by that acute embarrassment.

It sure is nice to feel pride in my country. I had almost forgotten what that felt like. Soon I won't have to cringe when the US president is on the television stumbling over his words. When my family and I would travel on holiday I would have to shrug off noticeable looks from passport officials in the countries my family and I were visiting. There was never anything nasty, just a sense that because I have one of those blue American passports, I wasn't nearly as welcome as the rest of my family holding red UK passports. On some shores there is no love of Americans and I felt it. There may have been perfectly valid and understandable reasons for this behaviour. I haven't been particularly pleased with US foreign policy over the years and it seems that my feelings were shared by passport control.

I am proud of something my country did on Tuesday. It was a long shot and for a while it didn't look like he was going to win but . . .

We elected this man to be our 44th president. I feel hope rising to the surface again. As one gets to a certain age a realization creeps in that having hope isn't always a safe or good thing to have. Hope can be dashed. Hope is something that can be unfulfilled and when that happens you get mad at yourself for being naive enough to have that hope. You decide not to fall again for those who promise hope. You' decide that hope is to be one of the things that is an indulgence of youth. It is much less painful to be a cynical person.

I will admit it, I underestimated the US voters. I didn't think they'd do the right thing but I'm going to pack up the cynicism and stop being embarrassed. I am going to stop pretending that we're not related. I have let a little bit of hope back in.

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