The Elections, Our Homecoming

Ever wish those gadgets in Star Trek were real? As the U.S. Presidential election results streamed in on Tuesday night, we sure did. We were desperate for a transporter to beam us across Europe and the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.

We didn’t go to sleep here in Budapest, Hungary until 7 AM on Wednesday morning, after the election results were in and the concession and victory speeches were delivered. Earlier at 4AM, the American Chamber of Commerce election party we attended wound down as an equal number of Hungarians and Americans attempted to hang on until the West Coast results came in and the final call was made.

We left the comfort of Budapest’s Corinthia Hotel ballroom and its sea of specially installed television screens for the broadband internet comfort of our friends’ apartment. Live news streams and blogs supplied us with ample photos, videos and reactions across America as we chatted with friends on Facebook, Skype and Gmail.

All this technology kept us informed and connected, but we really wanted to be there, to witness what was happening in our own country.

For the first time in a long while, we felt very far away from home.

American Flag at Bryce Canyon, Utah - United States
American flag at Bryce Canyon, Utah.

A friend of mine said to me on Skype: “When was the last time you saw people dancing in the streets after an election?” And how about all those tears?

We wanted to dance in those streets. We wanted to take in those tears. And we wanted to do it on American soil.

We are still in a mild state of euphoria as we reflect on and absorb the meaning of all this. Now that the election is over, we also consider the staggering amount of work that needs doing in America.

Coming Home

Our original intent was to travel around-the-world for 12-18 months. After immersing ourselves in the Caucasus and Central Asia for five months and taking a detour to China, it became clear that we would require much more than one year to accomplish what we set out to do.

As we extend our time on the road, we realize that our parents and grandparents back home are not getting any younger. They also miss us. And yes, we miss them. For some of them, it’s been almost three years since they have seen us.

So, it’s time to return. No, not for good. Just for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, after which we’ll resume our travels.

Traveling as Americans has yielded its share of challenges and delights. But for the first time in a long time, we look forward to the reaction of locals we meet when we tell them where we’re from. With a renewed enthusiasm greasing the wheels of American diplomacy, we suspect it might even be “cool” – at least for a little while – to be an American abroad in the coming months.

And, as we plot a course for our Stateside visit, we look forward to seeing America once again.

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Comments

  1. Pete De Ritter says

    I was thinking of you guys today. I took my Mom and daughter out for a Chinese buffet. The food was good but I couldn’t help but think it was not as authentic as the things you’ve been eating.
    Hope you have a good trip back to the U.S. Please extend my greetings to your grandfather. If you end up in the Michigan let me know. I’d love to see you.

  2. Chip Ritter says

    It was an amazing experience here. Even in the small mountain town of Livingston, MT. Although MT ultimately went to McCain it was the closest election for president in many years. The amount of time and energy donated to our local Obama office was amazing. The excitement and anticipation at our local election night party was just as palpable as those in NYC or Chicago. It was an amazing night!

  3. says

    Pete: We’ve had many people tell us that they have a new appreciation and understanding of “real” Chinese food thanks to our food series. My grandparents have a favorite Chinese restaurant near them in North Carolina. After being in China, I can’t really say that its food is authentic, but it still tastes good and that’s what counts! We’ll be limited to the east coast on this visit – NY, PA, VA, DC, NC, FL – to visit family and friends, but thanks for the invitation if we come to Michigan!

    Chip: Oh, I wish we could have been there! We were watching the election results with a woman from Ohio; we were on the edge of our seats as the numbers came in. Same with VA results. We’re curious how this world-wide excitement might impact our travel…in a good way.

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