(Crossposted at MyDD where most of you probably already read it)
It’s been a week since I returned to my adoptive homeland. The Flight from JFK ro Fiumincino was suprisingly smooth…or maybe I was just still so stunned and excited to notice turbulence. I teared up only once…on takeoff when flying over Long Island and Connecticut. I was listening to my IPod as soon as I was allowed to. I kept playing one song over and over again;
“Jump” by Madonna.
The song has come to define my own personal struggle post college from job hunting to family situations to my decision to throw caution to the wind and move to Rome with my cousins.
I also used it to pump me up during the campaign. When I first started knocking on doors in Loudoun County in an office full of campaign workers who, at the time of my arrival, were still skeptical of victory in the wake of Palinmania.
“America, are you ready to jump?” I kept asking myself everytime I felt fatigued or had enough or felt like this was all going to come crashing down around us like a hyped-up house of cards.
Although I knew we were in good shape when my brother and I got sent to North Carolina because “Virginia is no longer in play. It’s now in blue,” I couldn’t help but feel pessimistic. I couldn’t believe it was happening.
It didn’t even sink in when, back in New York on election night, my family and I watched the world change before our eyes.
When I landed in Rome, I walked off the plane holding up my Obama/Biden sign and an American flag. I was met with applause from my cousins who brought an entourage to meet me at the airport.
“Viva America! Viva Barack!” someone yelled out.
The Italians were happy.
I’ve been home a little over a week now and since I got here, everyone wants to know what it was like…in Virginia and North Carolina during the campaign…in New York on election night.
Are the Americans happy with their choice?” they ask me.
“Ecstatic” I answer
At work, endless questions about campaigning, about how Obama won, about the electoral college, about Sarah Palin’s popularity. About what’s next.
I’ve been hailed as a hero by some…but only because I’m the only American they know. We’re all heroes is what they tell me. All of us Americans who lost sleep, lost wages, lost patience to hit the streets and change the world.
Perhaps none of this hit me as much as it did this evening, when hanging out at a cafe with my cousins and their friends, an old classmate of my youngest cousin (who is only a year younger than me) joined us.
“This is my cousin, the American.” is how I was introduced.
“Ah.” said Carla, the old classmate, “Buona sera. American? Are you excited about Obama?”
“He went home for Obama, campaigned for him, and voted for him.”
Carla’s eyes lit up.
“Benicimo!” she said, “What was it like to see the world change?”
It was the time of my life.
One more thing she said that struck me;
“You Americans, you never fail to impress. You have this ability to make us resent you and wonder why we bother with you, then, like flipping the light switch, you do something that reminds us once again why our ancestors trusted their lives in your hands.”
Now everywhere I go, I’m “the American” A title that has, once again since November 4th, become a badge of honor…which may be the first change we can believe in.