Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
I decided to join my new homeland.
I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
This started as a reply to this comment
and it's a pretty disorganized set of random thoughts.
A reader made the following suggestion:
You ought to post more of your experiences as a new American and contrast what you find good, bad or silly in the US with similar things in your homeland.
I started by saying...
This is exactly what I want to do. But I also want to comment on things that happen in Forest Grove and Oregon where I live now (and for the first time since I moved to the US consider my home.)
There are many other things that are of interest to me. For example, my political and social views underwent a dramatic transformation during the late 1990s when I lived in Madison, WI. So I like to comment, from time to time, on things that happen there too. The same goes for Seattle, WA. There are also several hot-button issues such as public education, UN, global warming, taxes, communism, and the French and the old Europe, of course, that I like to comment on.
Calling this blog Polish Immigrant
was probably a mistake since I don't look at issues through my Polish eyes. In two years, I will have lived longer abroad than I had lived in Poland. I'm also married to an Italian woman (living in Oregon, I feel I have to state the gender of the person I'm married to) so for the past 12 years I've shared her culture (including the language) too.
In fact, I have hard time relating to my Polish experience and to the current situation in Poland. When people ask me how often I go back to Poland, I reply that I don't go back, I just go. Going back implies going to something familiar. Yes, many places are still familiar. But people and the new culture are less and less so.
And I'm not alone in this. One of the recent post
of my blogging nemesis, Nina Camic, poses the following question: Do I really want to identify with this? Call it my homeland?
She, of course, regrets missing different things than those I miss. And, as I've said before, she does this for all the wrong reasons (that Palace shouldn't be toppled down as many of us wished before 1989 but converted to a museum of the evil that communism really is.) Nevertheless, it's hard for some of us, Polish immigrants, especially the younger ones, to identify ourselves as Poles anymore because the country we left doesn't exist anymore.
A huge part of my vocabulary, especially the professional part, exists only in English; I have hard time speaking to Poles about what I do because I learned everything in the US. This makes many of them treat me as a stranger and I often act like one.
So when I comment on something happening in the US, I want everybody to know that my views don't represent views of other Poles. For example, I'm more anti-communist now than I used to be in Poland. When I left Poland, it was still under the communist rule. I didn't like the system because I didn't like my situation in that system but I didn't understand yet how evil the system and the people running it were. At the time, I could entertain as valid some pro-communism arguments. In fact, for several years after I moved to the US, I thought that higher education should be free and guns outlawed. I was still infected (or brainwashed) with the communist propaganda that wasn't very easy to reject; after all, I had to work nights and weekends, and borrow a lot of money to put myself through school.
But I've wised up (as they say, if you are 30 and are conservative, you have no heart; if you are 40 and are liberal, you have no brains.) I'm almost done with paying back my student loans and I'm a proud member on NRA.
Now, I'm totally blown away by what's happening in Poland. Old communists are in power instead in jail. Many people long for the years before 1989. The only hope for Poland is not the membership in EU but a strong relationship with the US. I'm afraid it may be too late. EU will do everything in its power to destroy any chance for Poland to be economically strong.
So maybe the best thing for me to do is to write about the Poland I remember and compare it to the US I know. Maybe I should start with the things I still miss...