After traveling in 10 countries over the past two months I feel more American than ever before. But I also feel more globalized, more cosmopolian, more similar than different to Europeans, and strangely enough, less American. It’s a weird duality that my friend Pierre Claus pointed out.
What things will I do when I return home? I will get into a gaz-guzzling SUV and drive down a 5-lane freeway. I will go to Costco and buy 10-packs of cereal, 6-packs of ketchup, and everything else in massive quantities. I will ask for water at a restaurant and not pay for it. I will inhale air at a restuarant and not smell a cigerrette for miles. I will eat peanutbutter and jelly on bread and on saltines. I will eat pancakes — not thin Dutch style pancakes, but thick pancakes with butter. I will eat American crepes — not French thin crepes, but ones stuffed with all sorts of food spilling over the plate. I will eat American pizza (pizza with 10x the toppings).
I will be entrepreneurial. I will take risks. I will be a capitalist. I will proactively confront and criticize friends and colleagues in the spirit of eternal forgiveness. I will listen to some country music. I will walk down a street and see people from all walks of life who say they’re American, and I’ll enthusiastically support their own self-declaration.
I will be optimistic. I will see each moment as precious. I will believe that tomorrow will be even better than today. That tomorrow will bring the answer I’ve been looking for, the person I’ve been waiting to meet, the good news that’s been stuck in traffic.
I will enjoy season-less San Francisco weather. In other words, I’ll enjoy a moderate climate, and I’ll put on a jacket if I walk out the house after 5 PM, 365 days a year.
Most of all, I will pursue happiness. I’ll pursue it seriously, knowing that if I don’t, I let society tell me how to be happy. I will pursue it knowing that I came into this world alone, and will leave the world alone, but that in the intervening time I should enjoy social connections.
I won’t be just American. I’ll be a more cosmopolitanized Ben Casnocha, whose allegiance doesn’t extend to a state as much as to humanity.
I will, I hope, be more fully human.