Saturday, November 06, 2004

During the period between the conventions and the debates I began to consider that I might choose never to move back to the US if the country decided that their values were best represented by the Republicans. Then I forgot about it. A commenter on Olympia’s post-election rant, an ex-pat living in Sweden, got me to think about writing my thoughts on returning or staying away.

Let me start by saying that my coming to live in Paris had nothing to do with politics or social policy. I came because I had the opportunity and it is a good choice for me at this time. I have found a home and I’m comfortable. But I miss the US.

Upon returning to Paris following my September trip I realized that I missed the comfort of being an American in America. It’s the little things, like understanding the colloquialisms, not being self-conscious about the possibility of committing a cultural faux pas and not finding myself linguistically over my head in a conversation.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not angry and saddened by Bush’s election and the Republican gains in the Congress. But if two hundred thousand votes had been cast differently in Ohio would America be that much different?

For the time being I’m staying put and reserving my right to return. If my fears about my country are realized, I may choose to declare my allegiance to my new home. But I may also decide to return and join the revolution.

Kim

8 Comments:

Blogger jane said...

I know the feeling. I lived in Italy for a few years, so I was abroad for Sept. 11th and the gradual launch into the war in Iraq. I was disgusted by Bush's actions as I heard about them through the international press, but what truly frightened me was his widespread support by the American people. It made me feel like my own country had become foreign to me. But, like you, I missed the small things. When I speak in Italian, I never express myself fully, and this is due to both cultural differences and language/idioms. So I missed being seen for how I actually am. And when I got to New York, it felt like I could breathe.

The outcome of this past election disturbs me, but I'm not surprised. That said, it makes me feel so much better to see so many people become politically engaged again, and active in the effort to initiate change, and while they may not have been the majority they certainly represented an active, aggressive body of American citizens. They make me feel slightly more at home.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Garrison Steelle said...

At some point I would like to discuss with you the challenges of re-locating to Paris. I've been considering it for years, but that's a conversation best held in a less-public forum.

What I think concerns me is that so many people would rather run than fight. It's my country too, damnit. Maybe I'm just stubborn, but if the far-right wins it won't be because I did nothing to stop them.

-G

4:56 AM  
Blogger darling maggot said...

i understand the sentiment of wanting to leave for greener pastures but i think at times like these, america needs americans like you even more.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Two things are certain; one, I will remain and American, two, I'm remaining in Paris for the foreseeable future.

What I need to figure out is how I can contribute to positive change in America.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Dacia said...

I second Garrison's sentiment of wanting to stay and fight, for sure. I've been getting really annoyed at some of my friends who are talking Canada. This is my country too, and dissent is healthy and dare I say - democratic!

5:41 PM  
Blogger Librarian Babe said...

I've talked about Canada off and on for a while now, but I was glad the day (a month or two ago) when I got pissed off at the idea of having to leave my country because some people are idiots. I have to agree with those above who feel it's better to stay and fight for change. Even if Kerry had gotten in, would things have been different? We have a big job ahead of us.

(And of course it's fine if you stay in Paris if that's what's right for your life right now.)

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sheepishly proud that my fine little nation (Canada) is a place to which Americans suddenly seem to be paying attention. (Those of you that always did never made the news.) We don't wear our patriotism on our sleeves, hence the sheepish pride. We often make jokes here about how most Americans couldn't find us on a map, so this post-election attention is a surprise. Canada, being young and small, sleeping next to the giant USA, suffers some identity issues, but with the majority of Canadians being opposed to the war in Iraq, and being supporters of John Kerry, the past few years and this election result have let us heave a collective sigh of relief: we really ARE different than "the Americans" (the 51% that voted for Bush, anyway). More different than I realised, actually. I have never been prouder to be Canadian than in the past few years, over these issues, and over the quiet legalisation of gay marriage, province by province. (Our government opposed the American invasion of Vietnam, too, but that was before my time). But it is far from perfect here. And we pay high taxes, though I've always thought that sometimes you get what you pay for. You folks should come up and visit, anyway, even if you can't stay. It's nice here. (And it's not that cold everywhere, either! Vancouver kicks ass, year-round.)

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Matthew Rose said...

We're months after this election and the American fiction has become not unlike some brain dead poor woman hooked up to life support.

I, too, am an American in Paris. And I'll stay here, thank you.

Matthew Rose
http://homepage.mac.com/mistahcoughdrop/

3:06 AM  

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