Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I Love America

It just struck me today, with unusual force, that I love America. Not as a concept, but as a reality.

OK, so I haven't seen all that much of America. I've seen New Jersey and Richmond, Virginia, pretty much. Any other place has just been passing through.

But I've spent a lot of time in Virginia. I think I've spent enough time for it to be imprinted on my soul.

The things I think of when I think of America:

The low sky-line. This is rather ironic, since we think of skyscrapers when we think of America. And indeed, I saw a good few skyscrapers there. But in general, the skyline is lower and more even than in Ireland, and that seems so quintessentially American to me. (I think especially of Carytown in Richmond, VA .)

The sense of space. Driving through America is such a strange experience-- I understand why the road movie is such an American tradition.

Gideon bibles in hotel rooms. I always associate this with the marrriage preparation course I did, and it's what actually put this post in my mind.

"Sir" and "ma'am".

Green fire hydrants.

Target stores. (I never encountered a transexual in one, amazingly.)

Red Box movie rentals-- which are vending machines from which you can rent DVDs.

The strange sensation I get with many Americans that being outdoors is no different from being indoors. It's hard to describe and I know it doesn't sound like a compliment. It has to do with body language and tone of voice. So many Americans (at least in the places I've been in) are so utterly relaxed and unselfconscious. It comes down to little things like how Americans (or many Americans, anyway) address strangers. There isn't the moment of hesitation and silent rehearsal that you get here. It's instantaneous.

The effusiveness of American TV anchors and presenters.

I'm not one of these people who goes around saying America is the greatest country in the world. The idea of 'the greatest country in the world' seems as silly to me as the most beautiful woman in the world, or the tastiest food, or the funniest joke. (If people who say that mean the best political and economic system in the world, they might be right. I don't consider myself competent to judge. I don't know much about Iceland or Finland or New Zealand.)

But every now and again, when I think of some sight or sound or smell of America, I feel the tug of the same tug of the heart we feel when we see a friend smile, or remember a cherished memory spent with a loved one.

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