The Expat Apology Tour

Americans who live in Spain, when dealing with a cultural difference, call it “Getting Spained.”

Arrive at the town hall to pay a bill, only to find the entire office closed due to the ten am coffee break? You got Spained.

Running late to work because you were behind a wagon-load of carrots, (powered by a burro, por supuesto)? Yup, you got Spained.

Everyday annoyances, large and small are blamed on a proud nation which, at one point conquered a greater part of the world.

I understand. You see, get Trumped on the regular.

I don’t wish to talk about his policies. There are plenty of sites and Facebook posts that could feed that need. Instead, I want to talk about my life as a traveling American in November 2016.

The majority of the people I see on base are active duty military, and as a rule, they lean more towards the right. The majority of folks I talk to in town are obviously European, and as a whole, they love Obama and lean towards the left.

And whenever I’m traveling, I am the representative voice of my entire nation. In a bar, in a restaurant, whilst getting my teeth cleaned, I’m asked, “What do you think of your president?” Followed by, “Why did your country do that?” And, “Are you scared?”

My answers are, “I don’t like him,” “Because people preferred him,” and “A little bit.”

The only non-American person I have met so far who LOVED Trump was our Muslim tour guide in Marrakech.

So you see, that’s it then. We all get to have voices. The good part about being part of a group, is that we are PART of a group. But the group doesn’t always speak for me.

I can be an American who believes in King Broccoli, and that’s okay. Doesn’t make me any less of an American. A Spanish person could hate vino, tapas, flamenco, and the burro it rode in on.  Doesn’t mean they aren’t Spanish.

If I’ve learned anything is that while politics are deeply personal, they can also be background noise. People can belong to a nation and still be deeply removed from the stereotypes.

The key is to use those voices. To speak honestly, respectfully, and with education and context. And then listen to the other side.

People may argue that my thoughts are simplistic and naive, and that may be true. Or maybe they’re just being Nancied.

 

 

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