Wednesday, 21 January 2009

American Woman

I have quite a patchwork ancestry: half Slovenian, a quarter Norwegian, a little bit of Pennsylvania Dutch, and a smidgen of Native American. And even though it has been generations since my ancestors emigrated to America, I always identified myself in these terms instead of simply as an American.

A little over two years ago, when I moved to the U.K., my attitude changed. Suddenly, I was the immigrant (a label which, in itself, made me rethink some of the views I once held, but I digress...). I began to identify myself more as an American. It's funny how sometimes it takes leaving your comfort zone to really find yourself. But, despite my growing sense of identity, I sometimes felt like I had to defend myself. No, we didn't all vote for Bush, I'd find myself saying. Yes, some of us can find England on a map. And most of us do know that Africa is a continent and not a country.

But, today, it's suddenly "cool" to be an American again.

I am still on an emotional high after the inauguration of President Obama. I was glued to the BBC yesterday evening as I watched the enormous crowds, stretching as far as the eye could see, gather on the Mall to witness history in the making. Part of me felt very disconnected with what was taking place on the other side of the pond, like I missed a great party and then had to listen to everyone talk about it the next day. But the euphoria that pulsated throughout Washington certainly reverberated across the globe, and I was glad to be a part of it in my own little way. The bar is definitely set high for President Obama, but today marks a real change for America and the rest of the world.