Thursday, July 4, 2013

An Expat's 4th of July

I've lived in Germany for...please wait while I calculate...eighteen years now.

Eighteen years. 

I need a deep breath to comprehend that.

In theory, I knew this week contained the 4th of July. Coworkers in my company's offices in the States bragged about informed us early this week of their upcoming four-day weekend. 
Image by Teerapun /
But I admit I forgot this morning.

The kids still went to school. My husband hurried to his office. And since I don't work on Thursdays anyway, I was happy to go get my hair cut. Beyond that I had a trip to the bank, shopping, preparation for a picnic tomorrow, picking up the kids, arranging playdates, etc. Normal, everyday life.

So I forgot it was the 4th of July until I turned on my laptop. Facebook and Twitter both reminded me. I read about dogs freaking out because of firework noises and EMTs working long hours at parades and festivals. I saw people post the Pledge of Allegiance and pictures of flags.

And I detached from it all.

I'm definitely American. Even after so much time, I still feel a difference between me and the Germans here.

But when I visit family back home, I feel a difference between me and Americans too.

There's so much for America to be proud of. And a fair amount to be ashamed of.   

Sometimes, being far away is almost a relief, because I don't have to hear the political mudslinging and violations of human rights and crazy celebrity stories and people suing for millions of dollars because their coffee was hot.

But I also miss a certain "laid-backness" (yes, I'm sure that's the technical term), and an openness and a sense of hope that I think are very American.

Where's this post going? *shrugs* Guess it's just the ramblings of someone who has lived far away for a while.

Today, I hope everyone in America has a great Independence Day. Enjoy the BBQs. Enjoy the fireworks. Enjoy the long weekend.

Everyone in the rest of the world, have a great day too.

How did you spend the 4th?

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