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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Post details: August 9, 1991 (Newark, NJ)

August 9, 1991 (Newark, NJ)

On August 9, exactly 15 years ago, I landed at the Newark International Airport, weaved my way through the immigration maze and prolapsed into a go-go hood where people where uttering words that in no way resembled those from my English textbooks. The cultural impact was overwhelming. The buzzing hub of an airport, the New Jersey turnpike, the continuous flow of people and honking cars made me feel like a baby that was just born into a completely unwomblike environment.

What a shock! Having taken a bus to Prague, then a train to Frankfurt and finally a Continental flight to Newark - I underwent a gradating sequence of traveling crescendos which snatched me from my sleepy hometown in Eastern Bohemia and hurled me into the vortex of a metropolitan area whose population was larger than that of the whole Czechoslovakia. Gingerly, I made my first steps in the New World.

Today, the ratio between my Czech and American years became 29 to 15, so mathematically speaking I should be one third American and two thirds Czech. But life is not governed by the rules of arithmetics. I actually consider myself both Czech and American and I am grateful for that because, having friends on both sides of the Atlantic, it feels like living two lives at the same time.

The Czech Republic is like a mother to me. I have indisputable blood ties to that country. I was raised in its warm embrace and educated in its brick schools. I ate Czech bread and I drank Czech beer. The United States on the other hand is like a wife. I chose to live in this country. I found it special enough to spend the rest of my days in it.

I love both countries dearly. One of them is the world's sole superpower, the other one is just a picturesque valley in the middle of Europe. One of them will haul you into seemingly infinite stretches of land, the other one will haunt you in centuries old castles. And driving across the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco is just as memorable as walking across the Charles Bridge in Prague. The streamlined performance versus attentive contemplation. Both worlds have their pros and cons.

Sometimes, however, one has to make a choice. Like at this year's World Cup, where the Team USA played their first match against the Czech Republic. Without a moment's hesitation I chose to root for the Czechs. After all, it was the Czechs who gave me my first soccer bruises and that's what counts in this department. If you were born in say St Louis you also wouldn't root for the Red Sox just because you moved to Boston. There! You can divorce your wife, but you can't divorce your Mom.

svejk

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