My American Belt

For Christmas, for the first time I can remember since I was little, I wanted something specifically American. I remember at school, before you were supposed to really think for yourself, it was really wonderful to be proud of your country. The Fourth was as exciting as, well, at least as exciting as Valentine’s Day, and wearing our nation’s colors was a part of it. And after the elections I wanted to feel some of that excitement again. I found a belt at Urban Outfitters that fit the bill: stars and stripes in grayscale that didn’t shout “Red White and Blue” too much but still got the point across. And I am really proud to wear it! I admit that it is a tiny bit cheesy, and I’m a little self-aware about it… but that’s just a spectre of the old me…a guy that was kind of embarrassed about feeling national pride.

Not that I didn’t have reason to be embarrassed, I don’t think. It has been an embarrassing eight years. But yesterday, as I listened to our new President’s inauguration speech in my car, and actually cried (have I ever cried during a political speech?), I was pretty excited about not being embarrassed any more. I was meeting a friend for lunch and as Obama closed I jumped out into the snow, which was suddenly less annoying and more beautiful to me, and actually skipped a little bit to my friend’s door. Again, cheesy. But his speech was about remembering what we used to be, and finding those old feelings again, about getting back to what we once were. And for a second I felt like a kid again, and it was wonderful to feel that pride.

I don’t know whether he’ll do even a fraction of what he wants to do, of what everyone expects him to do, what everyone needs for him to do. The cynical side of me knows that what he’s up against is daunting for anyone, and he only has a relatively short time to try to right some serious wrongs, and chances are he won’t be able to get it all done. But he has already broken so many “rules”, and done it so gracefully, and intelligently. So I’m wondering if I’ll even care if Obama completely fails as our 44th President. He might get lost. It’s human nature to do so. But for the last few months he has given me back something I have been missing for a while; missing to the point where I didn’t even really realize how much it meant to me in the first place. And I really think that this slightly corny feeling of Hope will stick with me for a while, along with this slightly corny belt I wanted to signify this American feeling of mine.