Title

Ital (eye'-tal): of or from the earth; vital; life giving; natural.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homesick

It's natural to get homesick from time to time when everything around you is so new and different. There are times when I long to hear an American accent or eat a nice crisp McIntosh apple. So I was pretty excited when I had to take Song to the U.S. Embassy to report her birth.

I guess I was (naively) expecting a sort of homecoming reception...to be greeted by smiling Americans ready to offer me up a Starbucks' iced mochaccino and the latest baseball/football/ basketball/hockey scores while other Americans mingled under the palm trees exchanging pleasantries about their travels in Jamaica...

Instead I approached what looked like a fortress with high walls, tons of security and a very very long line of people hoping to be granted a visa and therefore a very small piece of the "American Dream"...

"No cell phones, cameras, electronics of any kind, perfume, cologne or umbrellas allowed in the Embassy," I was told by the person with a clipboard managing the crowd on the sidewalk who did not have an American accent. They checked off my name as having arrived for my appointment and I was directed through the first door.

"No cell phones, cameras, electronics of any kind, perfume, cologne or umbrellas allowed in the Embassy," I was told by one of the ten security guards inside...again no American accent...

The diaper bag went through an x-ray machine and Song and I went through a metal detector. The diaper bag was pulled aside and searched because the baby wipes looked suspicious...

Upon discovery that the baby wipes were just baby wipes, we were allowed through a second door. There was a large courtyard, beautifully landscaped which I thought would be a great place to drink that mochaccino...

I was directed to a third door where I was given a number by a person who did not have an American accent and told to go through a fourth door. Once through the fourth door, I was directed to sit in one of the many rows of chairs and told to wait for my number to appear on the electronic screen. It kind of reminded me of the DMV in Brooklyn...except for the plate glass windows where business was to be conducted via phone...you know, like the ones in prisons...

So my number was called and I gave the very pleasant smiling woman Song's application and accompanying documents and by phone she told me in a not so American accent what the process would involve...

After all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed and double crossed, I was called to a second window where I was asked to again pick up the phone and I was finally greeted with a very exuberant American accent. "Hey, how are ya? Okay, raise your right hand..." I was administered an oath by a very young and quirky American consular officer. He kind of reminded me of my brother only with blonde hair. Upon swearing that all the information contained in Song's application was true to the best of my knowledge, the officer said, "Cool." Then he asked me in a very animated way how the "whole giving birth in Jamaica" experience was. I seemed to confirm the other very positive experiences of ex-pats who had given birth abroad. "I've only heard good things," he said. "Well, very cool. Alright. We'll call you when the certificate arrives." And so ended my very brief exchange with a fellow American.

I left the Embassy and the ever growing visa line with "No cell phones, cameras, electronics of any kind..." echoing behind me. I guess I should not have been surprised, really...Being American is like being part of an exclusive club...and not everyone is invited to the party...The "others" need to be kept out, even if it means keeping fellow Americans at a distance too. What disappointed me most was the imposing feeling that no one was allowed...that everyone was under suspicion. It just reminded me of the empirical power the U.S. wields throughout the rest of the world. It left me feeling sad. Instead of being a place containing all that I love about America, it was the opposite...

But I am pleased to introduce you to the latest American citizen to join our family. I hope to teach her about all the great things in America...because there are many...



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