I woke up this morning to texts and facebook messages in glorious, all-shouty-capital red, blue and white technicolor letters: CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! And the only time I ever felt happier about MLB was when the Red Sox won the world series (and then again the second time….and also the third).
I woke my children with a rousing chorus of “Go Cubs Go!” and danced around singing it all morning. And everyone around me on the streets here in London thought I was completely crazy. It’s just some dumb American game that only Americans play. It’s not like football (soccer to Americans) or rugby that the REST of the world plays. Sure, I can feel pleased with myself, but come on, let’s save the celebrating for a real game.
Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but there were certainly no conversations happening about the extra innings in game 7 of the world series, or the amazing comeback from a 3 games to 1 deficit, and that wild pitch? A RAIN DELAY??? Holy sh*t I had trouble breathing through the video highlights, imagine watching the game! (Which, if you’re accepting excuses, I could not do as it wasn’t televised here in London, and it started at midnight my time. The first “CUBS WIN” text hit my phone at almost 5am)
So that’s the life of an expat. Especially if you hold on to your home country’s….stuff. Your victories are only yours. Your elections, your cultural references (got milk?), your food is just yours. I would do a lot for a great big Malnati’s pizza, or a cannoli from Mike’s right now. It’s a choice, however unconscious, that gets made when you move away, obviously.
And, frankly, it’s a persona I’ve adopted a little bit here. I’m American. I look American, I sound American and I certainly act American. I cultivate that persona as a kind of social lubricant. I can be excused when I don’t get it quite right because I’m American. I was sitting with some other mothers having a cup of coffee and they were talking about where they were when England won the world cup. And I asked, “Were you football (soccer) fans before the world cup win?” They all looked at me for a second. Then they said: “Oh no, this was rugby.”
And, if this election cycle has proven anything, it’s that it’s great to have an American around because that means there’s always a joke or a snarky comment available (at my expense). I take on that mantle too, because it gives me something to say.
But it makes me sad. It makes me miss home. I want to be there on the ground celebrating our loveable losers who WON, with everyone else who gives a damn. I want to go home.
Here’s the thing, though, I’ve lived here for more than two years. And I’ve lived outside of the US for over three years. I’ve never lived with the Affordable Care Act, or the new federal graduation standards. I have never seen a Hillary or Trump for president ad on television. I had to watch the nominating conventions the next day on youtube. I don’t listen to American radio, or watch American television. I don’t know what’s going on in American culture so much these days.
So what’s going to happen when I move back? Since I don’t really follow British culture that much (bake what?), and I really don’t follow British politics (in my house we have Brexit every morning when we wake up) I can’t be the fake ex-British-pat when I move back. Who will I be?
I wonder if, by moving away from home for so long and so far, I have effectively made it so I have no home.