On unfamiliar territory

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This thoughtfully-written piece in the New York Times puts into words some of what I’ve been feeling for two years and some of what I’m just coming to terms with this morning. American journalist Jim Yardley reflects on what it is like to be an expat during these strange times. Be warned, the piece is long and will break your heart. Here’s an excerpt:

I heard it often, traveling around Europe as a journalist. I even heard it from an immigration officer at Gatwick Airport outside London, who teased me as he looked at my passport. I was an American abroad, which meant being held accountable for the strange and fevered state of my homeland, which meant facing some version of the question “What is going on in the United States?” Sometimes the query had an air of schadenfreude, but just as often there was a hint of real concern. The rest of the world already seemed to be going off the rails. It couldn’t afford to have America follow.

I don’t yet have my bearings in this new, unfamiliar territory we’re entering, so I thought I’d do the lazy thing and share what another has written. I can say this much: I feel more American than ever and am hurting more deeply for my broken country than I did when I lived in the United States. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the “distance makes the heart grow fonder” syndrome or maybe I didn’t really know my homeland as well as I thought I did.

It’s snowing in Geneva as I write this and it feels both gloomy and hopeful. Maybe all of this pure, white, heaven-sent confetti will cover some of the ugly, muddy tracks we’ve left.

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