As the topic of expanding families begins to emerge among my mommy friends, the "Can you ever love a second one as much as you love the first?" question arises with regularity. The experienced moms among us usually say, "Yes, but you love them differently." It's much the same with countries.
I love the USA because it's the place that made me who I am. It's the place that holds all my childhood memories. It's the place where neighbors know and look out for each other. It's the place where kids whose families have helicopters go to the same public schools as kids whose families struggle to make ends meet (and the kids don’t care who has what!) It's the place where a person's word means something. It's the place where sweets taste as good as they look. It's so many things...
My great love for my homeland doesn’t diminish my love for the land where my daughter was born. I love Chile because it's the place where I became an adult. It's the place where you can enjoy life and if that means being a little late sometimes, it's okay. It's the place with ferias and whole streets dedicated to selling one thing. It’s the place where the majesty of the Andes reminds us of how very small our problems are. It's the place where people are allowed/encouraged/expected to take time out from their day to nourish themselves and spend time socializing as they partake of the sacred right to almorzar (eat lunch). It's the place where those who have the least are the most generous. It is so many things…
(Disclaimer: I’m well aware that “Santiago no es Chile”. To be fair, the metro DC area is not the USA, either. Let’s just say that my examples refer to my experiences and not the whole country.)
I’ve had two “This is the Chile I love” moments lately. The first was reading this blog entry, written by a dear friend who captured a slice of Chile perfectly. Domingo is Chile in so many ways.
The second, was driving up San Pablo after this morning's soccer win. The street was flooded with people wearing red, waving flags, tooting horns, jumping, screaming, and overflowing with joy. The beat of the drums jostled every bone in my body and the street was alive! This is the Chile I love. It's not the sparkles of Sanhattan or the flawless new highways; it's this, when Santiago shows the world that it is not "Latin America-light”, that I fall in love all over again!
All of this re-infatuation makes me wonder how Ely will feel about her two countries. Will she even feel like she has two? Or is the USA just the place where mommy's from? Will she feel like she “belongs" in both places? or will she struggle to find a place for herself in either one? Which will feel like home to her?
I hope that she will achieve what I finally have. I hope she loves each country the same, but different. Azadeh Moaveni said it so perfectly in Lipstick Jihad: “I resigned myself to never saying goodbye, because I now realized that I would perpetually exist in each world feeling the tug of the other.”