An open love letter to America
I’ve always been in love with you. I grew up with you, flickering in the pixels and glittering blur of television screens and movie theatres. You burnt brighter than a supernova with your optimistic joy, every vein within your body bursting with a million lights, lives and dreams.
I’ve wept with your sadnesses and I’ve rejoiced with your successes. I’ve sung your songs, I’ve stood for your anthem, I’ve felt the pain of your heartbreak and grief, I’ve felt safer when you have stood up and given your sons and your daughters in the name of the vulnerable, the persecuted and weak. You were my inspiration, my hero, my big brother. My first memory is 9/11, the deepest wound that was yours as much as mine. I had nightmares for years, seeing you in flame, weeping, angry. I was five, and I was angry. I was angry for you.
We speak the same language. I’ve made you laugh, you’ve made me cry. I can stand on any one of your streets and be understood. I have stood beneath the skyscrapers of New York and the redwoods of Sonoma and felt I was home, for the first time, at home with the zeitgeist that are central to my very being: freedom, justice and hope. Every time my plane lands in DC, New York or LA, I feel like I can breathe again. I don’t have that love, that joy for this sad, grey and cold island that is written on my documents, stamped into my passport. I will never be proud of British aristocracy, monarchy or cold, stiff unwavering calm.
Perhaps I’ve idealized you, but I know you. I know your quirks, your frustrations, the way you queue when you want coupons in Walmart, the cost of Ben and Jerry’s and the way you look at me when I order tea in Starbucks. I love you, America. I might be a foreigner, born on a far away island that doesn’t matter, but I love you. I’ve known since I was a child that I was meant to be with you, escaping from the claustrophobic, suffocating regime of monotony, tradition and class into your great wide wilderness of a continent of dreaming.
I want to contribute, America. I want to pay my taxes, obey your laws. I want to integrate, to explore, to spend my salary in US stores and pay wages to US workers. I want to care about your hungry, your sick and your elderly. I want to volunteer at your schools and help at your foodbanks. I want to marry, have children, have a future as one of you. I want to hire your graduates, train your wayward teenagers, support you through this difficult time. It hurts me every time I see you reject me, class me as a lurking, creeping shadow, a criminal out to destroy and corrupt you. We love you, America. We also loved you.
I’ve got my degree, America. I’ve done my time scraping through jobs I hated, pouring over books that bored me to death and exams I spent all night panicking about. I’ve got my scholarships, my awards, my prizes. I’ve established myself in my sector, spent years learning your culture, your pride, your fears and your joys. I’ve done everything for you. Everything was for you, for a chance to be with you.
I know you don’t get to decide the laws on immigration policy. I know if anyone told you no British person could come to the US unless they were offered a job for over $200,000 or had a relative there, you’d say that was stupid. I know you would tell you would like to have an immigration agreement with Britain alongside those you do have, like Chile or Mexico. I know you know that our countries share far more than a common language. I know you know that I’d never hurt you, that I’m not a terrorist, a druglord, a gangster or a criminal. I know you know I love you.
I’m not asking anything from you. I just want you to know. I want you to know I cried last night when I realized I couldn’t be with you, that the rules were just going to get tighter and tighter until they choked my dreams dead. That my hopes were slowly fading from me, leaving me on this small, dead rock that seeks to make my world even smaller.
Just know I love you. I always will.