Obama won! I’m so happy and relieved. I wish I could say “yes we did it.” But I can’t. As I am only a green card holder, I don’t have the right to vote. I didn’t contribute to this win.
My husband and I watched the election at a friend’s house last night and I really wanted to be as excited as everyone else. I really wanted to feel what THEY felt. I so wanted to be part of the experience, a part of history. But I couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely glad that Obama won, as he represents all the values I believe in as a human. But I still don’t feel like he’s MY president.
Yes, I have lived here for nearly 4 years, almost as long as a presidential term. But for some reason I still don’t feel like I’m a part of it. I still feel like an outsider. I still don’t care much about American politics. Even while I was watching the Olympics, I couldn’t seem to care about how many gold medals the US won.
For the last 2 years I was eligible to apply for citizenship and I am still thinking about it. But my reasons are more in terms of benefits and costs. For me, it’s pure cold calculations. Having a US citizenship will add more rights to what I already have as a green card holder.
But part of me is saying it will be cheating.
I’m not an American yet. What I am is a New Yorker. I love New York. I read about New York history, I am constantly learning about this city and feel that I know it well, intimately. But I don’t have the same feelings toward the rest of the country as I do about this city, MY city.
But in the moments like yesterday, it was a bit of a wake-up call. I realize that New York is not a separate country. It is an island, but only geographical. It is a part of a country I don’t know well. I don’t know its history, its leaders and I am not familiar with all the pop-culture references that my husband and his friends are always reminiscing about. I don’t even root for American sports teams.
Part of me still refuses to assimilate.
Part of me is taking this secure position of not belonging. In the end, it is sometimes easier being an “outsider.” I have a right of not knowing, the privilege to say, ‘I don’t know, I’m not from here.” But do I really have this right?
I live here. I have worked here. My friends are here. My immediate family is here (husband and two kitties.)
My husband and I are even buying a house here.
How long can somebody refuse to be a part of the life they live in?
How long will it take, if ever, until I will be able to call the United States my real home? Or even second home? Maybe I was too old to start a new life in a different country?
I’m proud of the speech Obama gave last night. I would be proud to call him my president, but how long will it take before I will be able to do it without feeling like I’m cheating?