The Global Nomad Life: The Day I Cried When “The Star-Spangled Banner” PlayedMari Hernandez-Tuten
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was peeking over the mountains, letting us know that the baseball game would not be rained out.
This was a day of many firsts for me.
My first time watching my son hit the ball with a gust of confidence in his spirit.
My first time sitting on the sidelines of the baseball field chit chatting with complete strangers from all over the world about what brought them to this lovely country.
My first week of parenting alone.
My first time watching the American flag fly high on the baseball field with the Andes mountains as its backdrop.
My first time crying as I listened to the “The Star-Spangled Banner” song play.
We live the global nomad life. We decided a little over five years ago to raise our children in another country. We love raising them in a slow-paced culture, where family is valued and an adventure is always awaiting (whether we are seeking it or not).
But then there are those days.
You know those days.
The days when just looking at Facebook status updates from old friends back home causes you to burst into tears. Yes, literally burst into tears. So much so, that on those days we could write on every update that goes through our feed, “Oh my gosh, that totally made me BIT!” (burst into tears). On those days, we find ourselves balled up in a corner as the expat loneliness creeps over us like a bad virus, unable to shake it off until it runs its course.
As expats, third culture kids, missionaries, global nomads, our hearts are forever being pulled in many directions. And our hearts literally ache as we think of all the wonderful people that have crossed our path, which now happen to be thousands of miles away. Unable to call them and ask them to meet us for coffee or a late night Sonic slushie craving.
Some days I long for justice and an end to poverty. Other days, I just want a caramel machiatto touching my lips or to be near loved ones. But don’t let my whining fool you; we live a beautiful life as global nomads.
Most days we wake up thankful to God for our life here in Ecuador, grateful for the beautiful friendships we have cultivated with the nationals and with other people from all around the world, for the beautiful spring weather year round, $4 manicures, hot fresh bread, and inexpensive exotic fruit.
This particular morning, I was just happy to have arrived to baseball practice on time for my boys’ first games. I wasn’t particularly sad that morning, so needless to say, I was surprised with my response to Frances Scott Key’s song.
The Boy Scouts of America came down the field carrying the Ecuadorian flag and the American flag. They stopped, stood tall and proud. First they played “Salve, Oh Patria,” the Ecuadorian national anthem. We stood up to show our respect. I was exhausted, so I just followed the crowds leading on what I’m supposed to do when the Ecuadorian National Anthem is played.
Then “The Star Spangled Banner” played loudly over the field. I stood there with my hand over my heart, watching the United States of America flag gracefully fly. Nothing new to me, but then I began to feel this sadness stirring down deep inside. So much so, I was having a hard time singing the next stanza. But I continued singing, and then suddenly the sensation of pride and loneliness came over me and tears started rolling down my cheek.
I was moved. In my mind, it made no sense. I love our life here, and I was feeling quite content. But my heart knew exactly what was going on. It hit me that this was the first time I had sung “The Star Spangled Banner” in over five years. I felt torn. I felt lonely. I felt loved. I felt secure. I felt lost and rooted all at the same time. Living the global nomad life is bittersweet.
What random thing has made you feel torn or lost from your home country?
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