We've been in Sydney for four and a half years now. And as it has a tendency to do, time has flown by. In four years, we've lived in three houses, held church services in four places, had two more babies and had a major transition as we became the lead pastors of the church. So there's been some stuff going on.
Jason and I love living here. In fact, there's a lot to love about Australia, y'all. With the exception of missing family and friends (which is a constant), I don't often feel homesick. My mom is reading this right now, and I guarantee that I am making her nervous. If Amy doesn't feel homesick, she's thinking, maybe they won't move home! Ma, I ain't saying that. It's just that we are enjoying our lives here and the culture, and on a day-to-day basis, it suits us really well. You can however read about some stuff we miss cough--free refills--cough here.
Every so often though, I see or hear something and get hit with a wave of nostalgia--a longing almost--for America. Now, if living overseas has taught me anything, it's that America isn't the best or brightest and it isn't God's "chosen place". In fact, America could learn a thing or two cough--universal health care--cough from Australia. But even knowing that, there are things that are so ingrained in your culture, so a part of who you are that when you think of them you're hit with a wave of emotion. One that sometimes you don't fully understand.
Is this making sense? Y'all following this? It feels like this post is being written by an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters.
I am second from left. Anyhoo.
I had such a moment a few weeks ago, watching a BBC documentary called "Stephen Fry in America". Stephen Fry is a British comedian, writer and actor and in this series he drives through all 50 states and highlights his experiences along the way. It is really worth watching, especially because it gives an outsider's perspective on the States. I think he's pretty perceptive.
In Episode 2, "Deep South", he travels through Florida and Alabama. The episode ends with him at an Auburn vs. Alabama football game. The camera follows him as he wanders around the sidelines of the game. He is in wonderment at the masses of people there, the fanfare, the outrageous fans, the electrifying atmosphere. Growing up in the South, this phenomenon isn't new to me. I know what big college games are like. But this time, it was like I was seeing it anew. The grandeur of it all, all this money and passion spent on what is actually a local football match between students. "Only in America," he says. For real.
I know that these characteristics are part of what some people can't stand about America. And sometimes I think they're right--any good thing can be taken to ugly extremes. But this episode just made me miss America so much. I'm not even a football fan. But the audacity and the abandon that would elevate a college football game and bring something like 87,000 people together to watch it struck me as so familiar, so uniquely American. It was almost like seeing someone you used to know well but have forgotten all about. I was like, Yes! I remember this now.
And then Stephen said something about the whole game experience that really struck me. He said, "I really don't know of anything that sums up America better. It's simultaneously preposterous, incredibly laughable, impressive, charming, ridiculous, expensive, overpopulated, wonderful. It's America." Gosh, I thought. That just so hits the nail on the head. All those things are America.
As he listens to the crowd belt out the national anthem, he gets teary-eyed on camera, and I was tearing up right along with him. And then, as if to make his point, two F-18s fly by right overhead.
I sat in my bathrobe watching all this with a huge lump in my throat. I'm not even sure why. I think it has something to do with seeing something again that is familiar to you, yet you know that you won't find it where you are now. Yes, it's excessive and maybe even a little silly, but it's part of where you come from.
When I started writing this blog, part of my purpose was so that my friends and family could know a bit about what it's like for us to build a life in another country. And much of doing that--having kids, being a family, working hard--is the same as it would be anywhere, I suppose. But what I've just described--that sort of culture-longing, for lack of a better term, is something that hits out of nowhere sometimes.
So that's what that is. If you get a chance, check out "Stephen Fry in America". Oh--and you can watch the segment I described to you on You Tube right here. I'm curious if anyone else has had these types of experiences--these waves of nostalgia or homesickness.
Or if you've read something else entirely produced by monkeys.