Monday, November 30, 2009

and they shall eat turkey

There's something funny about bringing new world traditions to the old world. I was never one to spend much time or effort on Thanksgivings past; it was more of a time to grumble a little bit about the commuting that had to be endured, eat a lot of pie and watch football with my Dad.

But something about being away makes you want to carry these things on, even if you don't get the day off. This is my second year putting on a 30+ person Thanksgiving in Europe, and I have to admit that sometimes it's better than the real thing. For one, the turkey in Belgium is infinitely fresher ("Hold on, we're just cleaning them, they're right off the truck," the butcher told me as I went to pick up my two 10 pound birds). Last year, after we finished eating, I watched incredulously as my Thanksgiving turned into a full blown dance party.

But traditions, I'm now realizing, are really important. Despite the near disasters, the expense, the hassle, it's worth it - maybe because it's a way to maintain your identity. Not only that, Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday for me and the people I tend to meet because it is a holiday expressly made for new immigrants eating together with natives.

Damn, I wish I had thought of that while I was making the toast. But to all who made it great, this cup of leftover wine is to you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sitting in a park in Paris, France...

I came home from a day of frustration the other day, and decided to have a nostalgic moment. I started listening to songs written by expat folk singers in Europe, like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, singing of their states when they were feeling lost in France and Spain. I think the nostalgia is a product of the impending Christmas decorations you already see everywhere, but also of just being out a little too long. And tomorrow I'm going to Paris. I've been in four countries this week, but it's not as exciting as it used to be.

I sing a lot of the time, even often without realizing it, but that doesn't mean I'm not ever homesick. I feel like I have to hide it - I have well-rehearsed scripts to respond to questions, such as why In God's Name I Would Ever Leave A Tropical Paradise. It annoys me when people make assumptions that one place is better to live in than another without having tried it themselves --- but on the other hand, experience hasn't been that much of a guide to me either.

In 5 weeks, I'll be in Florida for the first time in 18 months. That's a hell of a long time to be off your continent. And I'm nervous about the measurements that I will have to make. What has changed? Who has changed? Will I hate it and rush back across Atlantic shores? Or will I relish the anonymity of no longer being the American Girl?

Will you take me as I am?