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.
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.
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.