Well, today is the 4th of July, my country’s 244th birthday… but between everything that’s happened here since about 2015 or so it’s been harder and harder to celebrate it. But I do think it’s important to celebrate where you come from, no matter where that may be, and even if the people currently in charge make LeLouch from Code Geass seem like a sane and responsible leader in comparison. So here are 5 things that I love about America that are as apolitical as I could possibly think of. I know everything is political nowadays, but I’ll try my best, so just… okay?
1. Huge, Interesting Cities
I’ve traveled and lived in many cities in America, and though none of them are without their problems, they are all unique and fascinating. Each one has its own unique regional culture and many of them are famous around the world. A lot of them have hokey nicknames – LA is The City of Angels, New York is The City That Never Sleeps, Albuquerque is… The City Where They Did Breaking Bad? There’s so much to see and do in all of them. Even though the cost of living is often high, a lot of them have amazing sights you’ll find nowhere else and lots of amazing people from all over the world.
2. Awe-Inspiring Natural Wonders
But as awesome as the cities are, I they don’t compare to the joy and wonder of nature. America has many different climates – evergreen forests, harshly beautiful deserts, rustic old plains, two gorgeous coasts. The natural wonders in California alone will take your breath away. It’s a big, beautiful country, and one of my favorite national pasttimes is going on a road trip to see it all.
3. Music. Just… Music
If it weren’t for Americans – specifically black Americans, because they invented pretty much every genre of pop music there is – music would pretty much suck. Black Americans combined African folk music with Appalachian folk to make country and blues, then from that they made jazz, gospel, rock and roll, Motown, soul, funk, hip-hop, house… There is so much amazing music that came from this country, from people who could turn the best and worst parts of human experience into songs that they could share all over the world. Music is one of the few things that has given me faith in the world in these troubling times (well, that and my dog Muffin…) so it makes me proud to have so much amazing music come from people who have lived or been to the same towns and cities as me.
4. (Some of) The Greatest Movies of All Time
I’ve been pretty cynical on Hollywood lately, but I used to be a pretty big film buff in college and some movies I’ve seen have legit changed my life. They open my eyes to different people’s experiences, make me feel emotions that I often feel forced to repressed, and are just a ton of fun to watch. I’m a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, obviously, but there are also some great indie movies and cult classics I watch over and over. And I think it’s fascinating that American cinema takes influence from many different cultures, but also influences the media other countries make too. The original Star Wars was heavily inspired by the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, but without Star Wars we probably wouldn’t have Final Fantasy or Legend of the Galactic Heroes! Movies are great, y’all.
5. The People In Power Suck, But Most Of The Regular People Are Okay
A lot of people are pretty disillusioned with humanity, and I kind of am too, but I wanted to talk about some of my IRL friends that have helped me get through all of this and made me feel less shitty about this rock we’re all stuck on.
One of my friends works in biotechnology and researches vaccines for infectious diseases (he’s also a guitar player and an amazing cook!) Another one of my friends is just starting to come out as transgender and I’ve been helping her pick out new outfits – she looks so cute and happy in her transition! Another loves magical girl anime and we’ve been spending our free weekends watching Little Witch Academia together. I have an older friend who works as a therapist for kids in poverty. There’s one girl I know who lives in LA and is an amazing singer – she’s got the swagger of Amy Winehouse and the thoughtfulness of Joni Mitchell. I firmly believe she will be famous someday.
All of these are folks I met at coffee shops, pubs, meet ups, social media. They have family from all over the world from all sorts of life. Some of them are close to me, most are far away now, but they all helped me get through a lot of shit in my life. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them.
I don’t really care about America as a country or as a concept but I think there are parts of it that are worth protecting. There are a lot of amazing people who live here, and in other amazing places all over the world. Even though it seems like everything sucks right now, I hope that people take some time to be good to each other today and remember that we all have a lot more in common than not.