Fourth Fourth

Today is my fourth Fourth of July in France. For my first Fourth, I got on a soapbox. For my second Fourth, I waxed sentimental about who was eating my apple pie. For my third Fourth, I tried to make you laugh. So … what’s on the agenda for my fourth Fourth?

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“The Pain of the Country”

Tomorrow is September 11, but this blogpost won’t focus on the tragedy of that day 10 years ago that will forever mark me and those who witnessed or were personally touched by the events and their aftermath. I could never do it justice—I could never adequately put my sentiments into words. Silent reflection is how I plan to mark this somber moment tomorrow.

But this anniversary necessarily brings home to mind. Being a stranger in a strange land is never an easy thing, and at moments like this, the disconnectedness is amplified, the distance is more expansive, the ache to go back is more painful. The French have an interesting expression for what we call homesickness. They call it le mal du pays (literally, “the pain of the country”) and, somehow, it seems appropriate this weekend to speak of a yearning for something much larger than even my family and friends—a yearning for my home … my homeland … my country.

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“Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.”

Comme aujourd’hui nous sommes le quatre juillet, la fête de l’indépendance américaine, on devrait prendre un moment pour remercier la France pour l’aide que ce pays grand nous a offerte pendant notre révolution : On sait que vous ne l’avez fait que pour embêter les Anglais, mais merci quand même ! En toute sincérité, malgré des désaccords de temps en temps (quelques uns plus sérieux que d’autres, bien sûr), votre aide à cette époque à fait naître les liens d’amitié entre nos deux pays qui ont survécu plus de deux siècles. Qu’ils survivent à jamais ! Continue reading “Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.”

A Bitter-sweet Exile

A friend recently posted an article on Facebook about former Manhattanites living in my former hometown of Washington, D.C. Manhattanites exiled to Washington search for fellow sufferers is a humorous piece in the Washington Post‘s lifestyle section reporting on the “stranger in a strange land” lamentations of the members of a group called the Fellowship of Unassimilated Manhattan Exiles. It’s pretty funny because these folks are self-styled “exiles,” as if they had been banished from Manhattan to the hinterlands. And it’s even more entertaining because the article is rife with the stereotypical over-inflated New York ego: Continue reading A Bitter-sweet Exile