our patriotic moment abroad and a rodeo remembered

Patriotic moments can sneak up on you. Especially when you live abroad.

One in particular I can’t forget.

When my husband  and I lived in Italy, we were invited to an American-style rodeo by a very-enthusiastic-about-American-rodeos Italian couple.

I imagine we were exciting for them. Real live, breathing American specimens to experience a rodeo with.

We arrived in our recently purchased  Italian clothes and they in Levis and cowboy hats. We squished into a car full of other American-rodeo-enthusiasts to a Northern Italian locale  a few hours from where we lived.

When we finally got there,  we were ushered into what appeared a heavily Levi-sponsored shop, with belt buckles, cowboy hats, boots and jeans at double or triple the price in the States.

waiting for the rodeo to start

We then entered the rodeo. And with (purposely polite) surprise, we saw many other Italians, dressed up in American rodeo attire just like the group we arrived with (Armani would be shocked).

We tried to appear unstartled by the surreal scene in front of us: the rodeo, real American cowboys speaking American English after months and months living in a city where not an American-accented person could be found.

Then the song began. Without warning. It took us by surprise.

The American National Anthem. As we took our seats, the familiar Star Spangled Banner music began and the crowd – Italian hands covering Italian hearts – settled on a large American flag and began singing. We looked at each other nervously, like imposters, swallowing what began as a giggle but quickly turned into a lump that formed in our throats. Next came the surging emotions   – homesickness, the displacement of expat life, the visceral reaction to a song that pulled at something deep within us. We were overwhelmed.

We sang quietly and both wiped a tear away. And then it was over, as quickly as it began.

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7 responses to “our patriotic moment abroad and a rodeo remembered

  1. That’s a nice “moment”. These things can surprise you. I had the same in reverse, hearing a Taiwanese song now I’m home brought a big lump to the throat. I have to be careful when putting the CD on now, to make sure it’s not at a moment when I might dwell on it!

  2. What an interesting and charming experience, at times I feel like I could use a few of those moments here. I love reading about your life stories and experiences in Italy…

  3. Come to Idaho. They happen all summer, and they are great. Sort of like Monique’s count, minus the Armani. The parking lots are full of Fords and Chevy’s. God love this country!

  4. omg – Michelle – I just had to research and had saved the old ticket in my photo album. they actually have a facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/pages/RODEO-WILD-WEST-SHOW-Cowboys-Guest-Ranch/73145671549
    maybe you could see if they know who does it in spain. there are like 1,245 italian (i imagine) followers of this page. I was not imagining the enthusiasm of these italian rodeo fans!

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