Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Fourth

(Mike suggested that I not post this until after the Fourth of July was over, and then enforced his suggestion by refusing to let me use the computer all day.)

There is nothing quite like celebrating the Fourth of July as a soon-to-be emigrant. It makes you feel like a bit of a fake. Explaining the meaning of the holiday to my nephews, waving a flag at the people who march by in the parade, even ranting about the little girl who for some incomprehensible reason is wearing a shirt with a blinking Union Jack on it- the zest for all of them feels a bit ashy in the mouth when you realize that in a month, you'll be leaving the country for another.

Of course, it wouldn't be so bad if the only thing going were a religious question. But I'm not just going to Israel because I happen to think that it's obligatory. I'm like one of those stupid, ridiculous heroines who is being courted by a sturdy, reliable, responsible, wealthy, and all-around suitable gentleman, but nonetheless gives her heart to the handsome, though impecunious, poet, leaving the more worthy suitor with only a warm, sororital feeling

I love Israel. I love it intestinally and automatically, with a native's wry fondness for its foibles. I love it irrationally and irrevocably, so that even after a year, I would stop sometimes in the streets and feel its liquid air purr into my lungs.

And as for America? I'm proud of it. I think that it is quite possibly the greatest nation on earth. It is certainly the best governed and has championed some of the most noble causes. I am grateful to G-d for giving it to us and to America for existing. But when I see the flag, I feel none of the sudden tightness in my stomach or foolish fondness; I curtsey to it politely and tell it that I am most grateful, sir, for your attentions, then disengage my hand and slip away. I would never think to kiss its dirt, or cry when I spot it through an airplane window. Even were it to retain my citizenship, my taxes, my support and participation, I don't think that I would ever fall in love. And now, on a completely different note, but far too good to pass up the opportunity to quote one of my favorite comedy sketches, a clip from Bits of Fry and Laurie, a British comedy team:

3 comments:

Miri said...

beats what I did for the fourth; worked, went shopping, attended a wedding, and only saw a few fireworks fom my car window while I got lost on the way back. I don't think there's any duality or hypocrisy to celebrating both countries. If you truly believe that this is a wonderful nation, then you have every right to celebrate it. doesn't change the fact that you will always love another.
Did you know that Fry and Laurie are Jeeves and Wooster (respectively) which you can get on video at your local library? (or at least at Selzer?)

Tobie said...

Of course it would be fine to celebrate it, but sometimes I just wish that I could love it as well, in the red-blooded American sort of way that the Fourth is supposed to be all about.

And of course I knew that they are Jeeves and Wooster. It adds such an extra dimension of delight to the whole thing, because it always feels as if it's just Jeeves and Wooster being silly in their spare time. It's physically impossible for me to view them as people separate from those roles

Halfnutcase said...

apperantly you can still celebrate the fourth in the traditional manner in isreal too.

(check out www.chayyeisarah.blogspot.com on her fourth in isreal post and see for your self)

but it must be weird to know your leaving in a month