Born in the USA

It’s been about nine months since we left for Switzerland, and we are now back in the US for summer vacation. We flew into Boston and are on the Cape. Between the traffic-ridden drive down from Boston, the small town Fourth of July parade, and my interactions with Americans at the local cafe, I’m in a cranky mood. Perhaps it’s the jet lag talking, but I’ve been overwhelmed with SUVs, big white men in bad shirts and with big bellies, and rampant consumerism. The girls are noticeably prettier (for the most part) than in Switzerland, and the kids we encounter friendlier. The adults, however, don’t seem so friendly.

The boys and I were walking with our nets along a pond at my in-laws, looking for frogs, and I was roundly yelled out by my in-laws’ neighbor, told that we were on his private property. In Switzerland, most people’s yards and property is also considered fair game for hikers walking through, so it really surprised me that this 65-year-old angry white man actually said the words “private property” and “you do not have permission” to our clearly up-to-no-good group of a dad, two seven-year-olds walking with frog nets and innocence. I feel like the Ugly American is now more prevalent on our own shores than in Europe. Maybe I’ll feel different when I spend more time in my more natural environment, Boston and especially, NYC. I hope so.

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