In America we are European and we carry this with us like a pearl. We hold it close to our chests for protection, but secretly hope that everyone can see. They should be able to sense our difference, so much history and so much culture should shine out of us in this land that lacks both.
To Americans, we play the role of ‘the foreigner’ to perfection. We are the right kind of immigrant, no uncomfortable reminders of war or poverty or desperation cling to our clothes or lurk in the corners of our eyes. They welcome us graciously, eager to show us and teach us and mould us. We smile our non-orthodontic smiles and say “yes please” (always so polite) but amongst ourselves we snigger, feeling superior because in our countries we eat real cheese.
We know if we wanted to, we could become American. We could change our accents to mimic their speech patterns, start driving monster trucks without gears, eat bacon and pancakes from the same plate. But they can never become European, we wouldn’t let them. They can never go back. For better or for worse they left us and our real cheese behind. We love them and we hate them for it.