July 4th: Free of the past. Safe in the future.

the-new-yorker-july-4th

Aatish Taseer, is “a London-born writer who never felt he truly belonged in the places he and his family were from: India, Pakistan, Britain. In America, finally, he feels free—and at home.”

As I recall my Green Card application experience, I get a similar rush of warmth for this country and its people who welcome me.  What a privilege it is to live and work here – my Home – and I’m grateful for it all.

Here’s an excerpt from Taseer’s wonderful essay: The Day I Got My Green Card.


“Then I thought of America, and a wave of optimism came over me. This is how a country earns the love of its citizens: It ennobles their relationships; it takes seriously their happiness; it acts on the assumption that people are basically good and, if given half a chance, will realize their better natures. Most of all, it creates the conditions—even here, in this dreary government office—for them to do so…

A week or so later—just as I was heading out for a run—my green card arrived in the mail. It was a sleek, handsome thing, full of an understated dazzle. I carried it around with me in my pocket for days. It was the first official document from any country—and I’d had quite a few—that I was proud to possess. It felt like an achievement…

What I had not counted on was what a relief that could be. Fifteen years later, it was what I had come back for. It was an immense freedom. No cultural attachment, no matter how great, can compete with it. The relief of being free of the past, and safe in the future, is audible in the reply that Nabokov gave to the Paris Review. He said, “Yes, I do. I am as American as April in Arizona.”

I hope one day to be able to answer similarly myself.

Happy Fourth of July!”


Notes:

Comments

  1. A very moving essay. I hope and pray that our country will move forward on the best path.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peggy Farrell says:

    Happy 4th, Dave! We are fortunate to live in a country of immigrants.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy 4th. I’m praying.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for posting this today. Happy 4th of July!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Until the last couple of years when most of my work started to be mainly with refugees, I didn’t see it the same way.
    Mine didn’t mean that much to me, I don’t know why.
    But, few times a week, the bell rings and as soon as I open the door, someone I have translated for charges in with that envelope.
    There are two worlds. One outside this envelope, and one sitting delicately inside.
    Their question is always “Is this it? Is it?”
    They speak so fast and nonstop afraid of what my answer might be.

    But, all that aside, none of it is of the same value to me as my older sons Green Card. After finally locating them in November of 2011, it took me until September of 2012 to finally bring them here. But we had complications.
    To make a long story short.
    He finally got his Green Card a week before my 43rd birthday back in April. It took 4 years.
    He kept on saying “Mom, I’m staying here with you no matter what. Even if it meant I stay illegally for the rest of my life.”
    To me his Green Card was his whole life and only future ahead of him in that envelope.

    Happy 4th.
    Thank you, David.
    This post was different.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Your recall is similar to mine. Wonderful essay. Happy 4th to you and your family, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So many people are waiting for this freedom their whole lives. Happy 4th! Enjoy. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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