You don’t have to leave your small town or home country to see the world with fresh eyes. All you have to do is bring a foreigner to you.
“Oh my God, there are so many good photo ops here.”
“Do you see this dilapidated carwash? Ohhh! Or how about the signage for this gas station. Even better, I can’t believe there are video poker machines outside a washroom.”
My friend B has joined me for part of my holiday this year. A genuine fan of most things American, she hopes to live in the good ol’ USA someday. When I told her I’d try to visit my family after spending time with the Canadian half, she jumped at the opportunity to meet up. I was excited to share July 4th with her and my family to give her a taste of our American lifestyle and culture. She joined me just outside Charlotte and then we went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
I came home to spend quality time with my family. For some reason it’s really hit home this year that my family is getting older and time with them is a precious, finite thing. I didn’t realize bringing B along would also help me see my home country with fresh, perhaps even more loving, eyes.
When I live in foreign countries I’m easily able to gloss over the negatives. You live somewhere that doesn’t “belong” to you in any way; for me, that means I need to respect their laws and rules despite my own beliefs because I choose to live there. Yet, when I come home, I have a pretty critical eye. When I moved away from the US, I left wondering if I would ever move back, if I would ever WANT to move back. Bringing B here and seeing her enthusiasm and wonder for assorted things has left me with a smile.
“So where is this All American 4th of July?! There should be a parade, fireworks and a barbeque.”
“How about a hurricane and fireworks on the television instead?”
Her visit also made me realize I’m more of a risk taker overseas than I am in my home country. B wanted to wander around taking photos. While I lived in Dubai I would climb around constructions sites while they were closed on the weekends. Here, I immediately went into fear mode, “What are my legal rights as a photographer?” “What kind of photos can we take around town?” It makes me wonder, how have my preconceived notions about my home country impeded my creativity? How do my behavior or choices, also driven by the way I perceive the US, influence my art?
Traveling the world opens my eyes. I get inspired and excited to see it all around me. I love seeing regional arts and crafts, going to historical sites and to art museums. Oh, and taking the occasional beach holiday. But what I’m beginning to realize is that living away from the USA has truly opened my eyes to something few of us get the privilege to see, our home country through the eyes of others. And what a gift that can be!
“Do you feel you are getting ripped off when you order food in Europe?”
My family laughed. B had a hard time digesting the size of our meals. Pun intended.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: How has your view of your hometown or your home country impeded or supported your creativity? I want to know! Share in the comments below.
Special Note: All images today are photographs by my friend B. Check out her Instagram Anthology_of_a_Nomad.