04 July 2011

The Americans

We are known as the Americans in our neighborhood.  We're rather an anomaly in Tokmok because we're foreign but we don't live in a remodeled apartment or in one of the complexes built by the Christian organizations. So we're the token Americans on this end of Tokmok.

I don't like many things that the US represents, but I like being an American.  And there are some great things that the US represents that I do like.  But even though the US is a comfortable and easy place for me to live, I prefer to live overseas.

But there are some things I really miss about the US.  I love the western US and have lived most of my life there, but it wasn't till I read Wallace Stegner that I understood better how I really feel about it.  I love the open spaces, the browns and yellows and golds, and especially the stories of the people who made the West home.  All of my ancestors, and my husband's, have lived in the West for at least 150 years and it really is my home too.  I think that Westernness that some of us have make us different sorts of Americans.

I don't feel as much a citizen of the US as I do a citizen of the world.  I wish nationality were less important, if only because it contributes so much to dividing people economically.  I can't believe that it's right for me to have so many opportunities simply because I was born within the boundaries of the US instead of the boundaries of the former Soviet Union (although, if I had been, it would be a lot easier to get those visas to Uzbekistan). I wish Americans were more interested in sharing what we have instead of worrying that we don't have enough.

I'm grateful to be an American and for the privileges it affords me, but there are so many other wonderful places in this world that grant some amazing privileges.


  1. I really liked this post. I grew up in the west too. And reading Wallace Stegner was a revelation. I found that living in Sweden for so many years changed me a lot--making me less comfortable living in the U.S. I don't know how to explain it any other way. I reached a point where living in Sweden was home. But now it isn't. Now we're headed to Saudi Arabia and I'm not sure what will happen there. I can tell you that I've become comfortable with not being entirely at ease--for it comes at the price of having the experiences I have and I wouldn't trade those for feeling 100% at ease in my home country. I think that vaguely uncomfortable feeling also pushes me to reach outside of myself--to do more. And as a result, I gain more experience. Sorry, I'm rambling and a complete stranger. I guess I just wanted to share that your post made me think. And I appreciate comments from other expats because I feel like there are other people out there who actually have an idea of what I feel.

  2. Swedemom, can I ask why you're going to Saudi? We have quite a few friends who've lived there or who are there now and all like it a lot.

    I'm definitely not comfortable with not being at ease here, but, like you said, it's definitely worth it to have the experiences I'm having.

    Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to read your blog, but wordpress is blocked here right now. Maybe someday.

  3. Amira, we are going to Saudi Arabia for a year for my husband's work. He's a scientist. We are excited, but I hate the moving process!