5.7.09

My country, ‘tis of thee.

As the war in Iraq began, I was not happy with the way things were going in the US. I was living in liberal San Francisco, but I still felt disenfranchised. I was even called un-American.

I had been to visit New Zealand, and I decided to return.

But when I did, I wasn’t sure that the remote, provincial paradise was the place for me. Our house was cold, I had to step back a few rungs in the workplace, and it was difficult to make friends with the insular Kiwis.

During those long Bush years, there was palpable anti-American sentiment in NZ. And a lot of it seemed to be directed at me. Kiwis mocked my accent, denounced my customs as too American, and made anti-American jokes.

But I didn’t reach out to other American expats. In my first five years in NZ, I didn’t meet any Yanks at work or over the Internet. And I certainly didn't want to meet them through the US Embassy.

Not only did I feel ashamed of my government’s policies, I was also embarrassed by the entitled brash arrogance of my people. The ugly Americans.

Things have changed. I have met some wonderful Americans living in the village. I'm enjoying some earnest American expat blogs. And I’m relieved to be so much happier about the direction my country seems to be headed.

Happy Fourth, y’all.

7 comments:

showyourworkings said...

NZers often seem to forget that Americans are people and people with a variety of political and personal beliefs to boot. It's easy to hate two dimensional characters you see on the telly and to imagine that "they're all the same". It's easy to blame a large wealthy country for eveything, then you don't need to accept any personal responsiblity.
It's harder to see that things are not that simple. xx

Sarah said...

I'm so happy for you right now and congratulations on persevering in settling into life here in New Zealand. I'm from Britain, but still found it initially difficult to find depth of friendship - finding myself drawn more easily to fellow expats. This was my story for many years. Thankfully, 12 year's on, I am now, finally establishing genuine Kiwi friendships - but the ones I make still tend to be with Kiwis who have traveled extensively (or who are considering a move overseas... alas).

Anyway, wonderful to hear you are now at peace with your home country and your chosen one.

Avalon said...

Im sorry you had a hard time iwth this. We almost had the opposite "problem" where it took us a few years to get to know any one who wasnt an expat Brit.

Now we have friends from all over - including a number of actual Kiwis - but for a long time it felt like we would never make friends with anyone that wasnt from the UK. I cant say it bothered me that much _ I just thought it was a bit odd.

Avalon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Juli Ryan said...

Funnily enough, my first friends in NZ were expat Brits. Go figure!

Jared said...

I'm still in the US.. not at all happy with the direction we seem to be going at a breakneck speed.. and I'm reading your blog because of an interest in getting out while I still can. NZ seems like such a nice place.. and a good fit for a freedom loving.. independent sort.

Moon Over Martinborough said...

Amen, sister! I know just how you feel. I'm soo happy now that the political climate has shifted a bit in the States. I've always felt that anti-American jabs were just the cost of living overseas for Americans. Maybe that's why so few of us do it!