In What's New
I’m starting to get more emails now from people I don’t know who have heard about my book but don’t know me personally. One yesterday sort of blew my mind. Subject line, “how does maria andreu feel about her life in america,” assuming, I suppose, that I have minions who screen my emails.As someone who is fairly private, getting that question feels strange. Not because it’s a bad question, but because it’s kind of… who cares? I know I’ve made myself and my story public, so the question is fair. I’m just surprised that it matters to someone.  A little flattered, actually.  So after responding I figured I’d lengthen it into a post.
I love to talk about America. I love this country dearly. The analogy that always comes to my mind is the love that a parent feels for a child who had a potentially terminal illness but beat it. All parents love their children, of course. But there’s a subtler grain to the love a parent feels for a recovered child, a nagging back-of-the-mind gratitude, a fluttery fear that tragedy may still come knocking. An overwhelming feeling of luck at not only having all this, but knowing how close you came to losing it.I feel like that about the United States. I could have very easily been deported on any number of otherwise mundane days while I was growing up. My parents could have given up trying to stay here, beaten down by the loneliness of being far away from family. I could have lost my hold on this borrowed land. I love it consciously, with the affection born both of having lived elsewhere and having lived here tenuously.

I don’t subscribe to the chest-thumping nationalism that makes people shout ‘Merica and say we’re the greatest country in the world when they’ve never even vacationed outside it. I don’t love it here because my life would have been a tragedy anywhere else. I would have grown up poorer, probably, but then I grew up pretty poor here. It might have been harder to get a college degree, but I had to struggle pretty hard here too. I would have had different things had my parents moved me back to Argentina, like the love of an extended family, which I sorely missed here.

So, no, I don’t love America because its the only option. I love it because it’s my option, complicated and flawed, great and beautiful but also sometimes sad and frustrating. I love running my mind over the bumps of its quirky political system, the contradictions of its people. I love it as an experiment that beacons to people with a promise far too dazzling to always keep. I love the movies and the songs, the way an American voice sounds too cool to enunciate everything. I love the brash entitlement, the irreverent humor, the pure smarts, the episodic reinvention. I love what America was before political correctness. I also love what it is after. I love America celebrating Christmas. But I love all the silly brouhaha from the pseudo “War on Christmas” too, a country so self-analyzing and cynical and idealistic all at once, all casseroled together in one pot of prejudices and myths and gumption.

Even when it drives me crazy, I love it, honored and humbled that it let me stick around.

So how does Maria Andreu feel about her life in America? Dazzled and grateful every single day.

Thanks for asking 🙂

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