On more than one occasion now I’ve been told I’m not American anymore. Or I’ve been told I’m an Aussie. While I’ll take the latter, I will not take the former. I had to conduct some personal research as to why I felt this way. Why, after each instance of someone attempting to strip away a piece of my evolving identity, I felt so defensive and ready to rumble like a back alley cat over the last scrap of chicken. I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons.
I love my country. Sure, the US is a functionally dysfunctional shit show at times. But she’s also full of diversity and ingenuity. Sprawling cities and small towns, both of which are filled with incredible people. A plethora of nice neighbors, and acquaintances you love to hate. A smorgasbord of political ideas, religious differences, and people either seeking or running from enlightenment. There is a Miranda Lambert song I love, “All Kinds of Kinds”, and not just because Stoney Larue also sings on the track. My interpretation of the song is that this circus of a world wouldn’t go ’round if we didn’t have all kinds of kinds. People who work their whole life in the same grocery store, or people like me who go out into the world, take a leap of faith and hope it all doesn’t go pear-shaped. I didn’t leave the US because I didn’t like it there anymore, or I was tired of the glorious Colorado sunshine. I left because it was the best decision for my daughter. She could have the best life her father and I could offer her at the present time in Australia. In all of my One Hot Mess glory, I found myself making the hardest decision I’ve come across in my short 28 years, and while I put on a brave face, it was scarier than watching Freddy Kruger at age 7. Selling just about everything I owned and jumping on a plane at 5 months pregnant with two suitcases and saying goodbye to my family seems almost unreal to me now. Thankfully, I have been welcomed into this beautiful country by an incredible family and some amazing friends. Now, let’s get back on track and I’ll tell you about my second reason.
I used to know who I was. Then, the sweetest, screaming, squishiest, little miracle known as Charlie graced us with her presence. Anyone who has become a parent, and especially the moms know, your identity changes when that time and date is forever stamped in your memory. I say especially the moms because not only do people start referring to you as Mommy, (who me?), your clothes don’t fit anymore, and you don’t recognize that puffy faced woman with the bags under her eyes in the mirror. Not to fear, you do begin to look like yourself again but on the inside you’re totally different. Scary! There are risks I won’t take anymore that I wouldn’t have thought twice about in the past. For example, eating cookie batter is a no-no. Not only because I’m not about to have time to make cookies, but I’m not eating raw egg. Who will watch the baby and take care of me if I am calling dinosaurs? Last time I checked I was only married to one man and there’s no nanny! Ok, bad example but you get the gist. I also haven’t done some of the things that used to be staple activities in my life in quite a while. Part of leaving the US was leaving behind the cold steel of my firearms, and the cozy leather of my saddles. Luckily, I still have my yoga pants and mat. Phew! I will ride again, and soon, but even then I will have to take up a different style of riding. Change, a necessary evil.
My last reason is this: I do what I want, you’re not the boss of me, and as long as my passport is issued by the good ol’ US of A, and I have to file taxes, I’m an American! One day, hopefully, I will carry dual citizenship. It’s a long and expensive journey but worthwhile. Just as one day, Lucas will become a dual citizen. When I moved out of my parent’s home at the age of 18, y’all didn’t quit calling me a Huffaker (maiden name, have fun trying to pronounce it if you’re new here). I posed the question of renouncing citizenship to a group of Americans living in Oz and the large majority of them said they would never give it up. I deduced from their reasons this, being an American is something we are born with, we become, and we (hopefully) take pride in. Now if we could just get the government to do that… Oh wait, that’s a whole other topic. I see myself as a representative of our great nation. When I meet new people, the first thing they ask me is where I’m from. Just as your mother isn’t perfect, you still love her, and that’s how I feel about my country.
I have no doubt that my little family will live in the US in the future and when we do, I will have this rich experience under my belt. Hopefully, that will only stand as something even greater I can offer my homeland having lived abroad. It’s a great big world out there, and it’s a short life.