My Love For Both Argentina And The U.S.

First Thoughts Upon My Return To The U.S.A.

This past Saturday, my plane from Argentina arrived at JFK Airport. My love for Argentina and my love for the U.S., I think I can say, are nothing if not complementary.

The other day, I had homemade pancakes for breakfast. This was, of course, symbolic. When I was a little kid, I loved pancakes with a burning passion, and I happened to have not once had pancakes while I was in Argentina. (In the U.S., they're, of course, a pretty standard breakfast food, but that's not the case down in Buenos Aires.) So, I had pancakes to inaugurate my return to the land of my birth.

This is, of course, a little trivial. What it does mean, however, is that, ever since I arrived on U.S. soil the other day, my reactions have been constantly characterized by the twin thoughts of "this spells out home to me" and "this is very representatively estadounidense." (Note to reader: since in Argentina a lot of people would fervently insist that "American" by right should be a term applied equally to all inhabitants of the Americas, I'll use "estadounidense" here, which is the Spanish language word for an inhabitant of the U.S.) I'm now on Cape Cod, in a spot where I've vacationed with my family ever since I can remember; I've had the daily odd sensation of seeing the U.S. flag flying rather than the Argentine one; and it's a bit of a shock to use USD rather than Argentine pesos.

Well, it's a cliche when we say that the U.S. is a country of immigrants, but it's true. This past weekend I went to the annual Portuguese Festival in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and, without being Portuguese or ever having been to Portugal, it was very clear to me that that event is a model example of an authentic immigrant culture being preserved in the context of this country. It also struck me as very much in the same vein as cultural celebrations in Argentina that struck me as, like Portuguese folk dancing combined with a blessing of the fishing boats in Provincetown Harbor, characteristically "Iberian": seeing people dance the chacarera (a traditional Argentine folk dance) and participating in a procession in honor of Our Lady of Luján were key embodiments of my experience of that.

While perfectly conscious of my own artificial presence in Argentina as a non-Argentine, I do think that I had enough of a successful integration over my almost five months there to excitedly be preparing myself to celebrate July 9th (Argentine Independence Day) after I celebrate this coming 4th of July with great pride. If there's anything that being abroad showed me (and I think it showed me a lot of things), it's that my own experience as a citizen of this great nation of ours is anything if not enriched and illuminated by having grown to identify myself with a country which represents, if nothing else, another variation on the daring and fruitful experiment of being a nation of the New World.

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