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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I am an alien

I don't take tea I drink Coke my dear
I say 'y'all' and drive on the right
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I'm an American in New Zealand

See me walking down Courtenay Place
Nike Shox on my feet
Smiling at everyone I meet
I'm an American in New Zealand

I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien
I'm an American in New Zealand...*

You might think that since I moved away from the States that I might have some sort of problem with it. That, just like many Americans who moved north into Canada after Dubya was re-elected, I threw up my hands in political disgust and decided to bolt the country. I mean, I didn't just move to Canada - I changed hemispheres.

But no, my friends. I had plenty of other reasons for moving to New Zealand, as opposed to moving away from America. There wasn't anything that drove me away. In fact, one thing I discovered soon after moving here was just how patriotic I feel about America. It was a bit of a surprise to me, and I guess I was being naive in not expecting to find myself in a foreign country and feeling a bit wistful about my homeland.

There were several little things here and there initially that made me feel all nostalgic for the Red, White and Blue. Mainly these were the sporadic anti-American sentiments I'd encounter in the newspaper or hear on talk radio. But come on - people who write letters to the editor and who call into talk shows are, by definition, not the shiniest coins in the fountain! So their remarks would often be dismissed as ill-informed or just plain rude. I don't mean to give the impression that I've landed in a hotbed of anti-American sentiment, but neither do the Kiwis fawn over us. That's a good thing. That being said, most of them would much rather have us help define the political and social climate for the rest of the world than a nation like China. So we've got that going for us.

There are certainly valid criticisms of the United States, and New Zealanders in general are very perceptive and pragmatic with their world view. So I give a lot of respect to their general opinion for they are quite well-informed and often have world views similar to my own. But I'm getting off-topic here. This ain't no political blog. I'm not Wonkette.

What really got me all teary-eyed one night a few weeks back was while I was watching my favorite sitcom of all time, 3rd Rock From The Sun. There was an episode where it opened with the Solomons at a football game, and the crowd was asked to rise for the singing of the national anthem. Being from another planet and still learning our Earth (and American) customs, they had no clue what the national anthem was or what it was about. So they stood up and faked it at first, then as the anthem went on and the singing and emotions swelled - as they do towards the end of "Star Spangled Banner" - the aliens were so caught up in it that after it was finished Harry yelled, "One more time!"

I had not heard the anthem sung since I'd been in New Zealand, for obvious reasons, so it really caught me off guard. I was laughing at the aliens' child-like reaction to our national anthem but at the same time I was overcome by national pride and not a little homesickness. I almost cried! But I didn't, because that wouldn't be manly. I wasn't watching Brian's Song or anything.

After the emotion subsided I thought it was ironic how, here on this show are actual real, fake TV space aliens, in a new country and reacting in this manner to this cultural phenomenon. And now here I was, an alien myself (although not from outer space, as far as you know) in a foreign country, getting all excited over my own national anthem. It reminded me just how much I do love the United States, and I really do not think that as an American you can truly appreciate how great we have things there - until you move away.

And it's not like I moved into the third world or anything. I'm not swatting flies away from raw meat and picking grubs out of my hair, so you could hardly say I'm roughing it. But it is enough to leave home and not experience certain things unique to it for a while, and then suddenly encounter them again and realize just how much you love it. It was pretty cool.

Yeah, I guess you had to be there.
*From the excellent Sting song, "Englishman in New York".


Blogger Beechball said...

aw, what a beatiful post brooksie! I really liked how you said that you moved to new zealand, not moved away from the US... there is a difference there and I am glad that you can acknowledge that. I haven't had the chance to travel much at all and although I would love to, I guess I'm just afraid of new things and of course, the cost of doing these things - not just financially either. It's just nice to hear someone be so patriotic about where they're from; it's really nice, even if you're not talking about good ol' Canada ;)

6:50 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Hi Lyndsay! Thanks for that, your nice words always give my day a lift. Really appreciate it. I hope one day you do get in a little world travel (hopefully you guys will come Down Under to see me!), because when you do I am sure you'll experience the same thing I did in terms of the ironic patriotism. That being said, visiting Canada is something I still need to experience and I sure hope I can swing by Sudbury to visit you guys when I do! Like how I just invite myself wherever I want? :D

7:21 PM  

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