May the Fourth be with you
Today is my third Fourth of July as a real USAian. I took citizenship on July 20th, 2016, although I don’t know for sure when I’d started to be more American than Australian. I still sound Australian, and the Oz upbringing is still very much a part of who I am.
It’s been an interesting journey, learning just how much of my normal vernacular is/was Australian and needed to be suppressed or replaced with the American equivalent. Some of it is obvious, some isn’t – and some is really surprising. One thing I did notice – quickly – is that in general (more or less polite) conversation, Americans are rather less tolerant of casual swearing than Aussies. Not that ‘Merkins can’t be foul-mouthed when the occasion warrants it but the Aussie vernacular is rather more… robust even in polite-ish company.
The way I describe it is that Aussies call it the toilet when they’re being polite. And there are all of two four-letter words that Aussies consider inappropriate for general conversation (although most will tone it down if they’re talking to the boss at work or in mixed conversation). Not to mention the frequent use of “bloody” to replace any and all parts of speech including punctuation and at times emphasis.
Or, to quote an Australian poet, “up in Tumba-bloody-rumba shooting kanga-bloody-roos” isn’t all that unusual although since the Oz government decided to be bloody stupid about firearms the shooting is much more likely to involve a camera. And yes, Tumbarumba exists.
In any case, shifting the way I think from Australian to American has been a long journey, and it’s one I’ll never be finished. There’s always that sense of not quite fitting, although I fit much better here than I did in Oz. The culture here is still, despite the best efforts of certain parties who shall not be named, much more tolerant of those who don’t fit in, especially the oddballs who achieve something despite – or because of – not fitting in. At least, I feel that way.
It’s a relief to be able to think of Americans as “we”, something I’d repeatedly caught myself saying in the years before I took citizenship. I still occasionally think of Aussies as “we” too, but it’s more likely to happen in the context of events that occurred while I lived there. I’ve put down roots here. I belong.
That journey is in its way its own hero’s journey, although I don’t really know who I’d put in the various roles of the journey. Still, I wouldn’t change it, not when a little less than three years ago, I came home.