I had a very strange day today. I was supposed to be hosting another American friend, who lives in Paris, for the weekend but she got sick and had to cancel. So my plans for the last few weeks (all of which were about getting my flat ready for her visit) went a bit awry, and I was left with an unusual three days of a completely blank calendar. This led, as it normally does, to my doing lots of cooking and eating. (My sister and I have just started a cooking blog, visit it here!) This also led to my spending three hours transfixed by the live broadcast of the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert “Rally to Resore Sanity and/or Fear” which was actually and amazingly available to view from the UK. (I say amazingly because the Comedy Central site is one where I normally get the “This video is not available in your country” message on rather frequent occasions.) It was full of American flags and American patriotic songs and hilarious jokes and stunts and lots of good music. No one really knew what the point of the whole thing was, but the Jon Stewart speech at the end of it was amazing and made me really happy.
I lived in the greater Washington D.C. area as a kid, and as a post-doc I was at the University of Virginia while my sister was a grad student at Georgetown and thus I’ve spent a great deal of time in the DC area. I consider that region to be one of my homes in the US, a complementary city/region to my actual home town of Minneapolis. Seeing the rally streaming over my iPad (hooray, the video worked! Must not have been flash…) while I was cleaning, cooking, and otherwise hanging around my flat, was actually a bit tough. I kept getting choked up about the whole thing, which is remarkably silly given how completely silly and apparently (tho’ probably not actually) pointless the whole thing was. It was not a major American patriotic holiday. It was the several-days-eve of a mid-term election, when voter turnout is usually poor. It did come in response to the whole crazy Tea Bagger thing that has caused America much consternation (not to mention dirty jokes–link NSFW!) over the last few months.
The thing that seems to get me the most, as a long-term expat, are the songs. The patriotic songs of America have become a real tear-tipping point for me in the last few years. I don’t know what it is about living away from “home” and never hearing the songs that makes this such an emotional experience. I guess when you’re around things all the time, you get used to them. And when you’re away, you miss them. (Like me and my obsessions with orange cheese-flavored crackers, for instance.) But I ended up watching the “rally” in tears due both to location and to music, and then to just polish myself off as useless for the night, I started perusing you-tube videos of my favorite American song that always makes me sob. Enjoy.