Missing America: 5 Things That Make Me Cry

Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California (1868) - Albert Bierstadt

I've lived in London for 10 years now and I'm often struck by what gets me...
  1. American folk music
    The songs you get on the iTunes singer/songwriter channel, especially when it has a real country sound. I mean throw in a steel guitar and a zither and I'm in buckets. 

  2. 80's teen movies
    When I was a kid I'd watch movies like 107 times and memorize all the lines. My parents went out a lot, we had a Blockbuster membership and I was an only child. I had crushes on all the leading men. So turn on your Ferris Bueller, your Weird Science, Teen Woolf, Pump up the Volume or Dream a Little Dream and I cry tears of happiness. Ah, the Coreys. Van Morrison's Into the Mystic still gives me chills.

  3. Whitney Houston's national anthem
    Just watch her sing the Star Spangled Banner. I dare you not to tear up.

  4. Albert Bierstadt paintings
    I first saw his stuff on a field trip to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC - and it got me. Albert was born in Germany* in the 1830s and came to America as a kid and fell in love with the American West. He does these sweeping, lavish landscapes. I've only seen the Rockies once, on a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, and it was by far the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Bierstadt's images are the epitome of what I miss about America - the land, the mountains, the open spaces, the natural beauty - and the idea of the American Dream. Excuse me while I get a tissue...

  5. The Godfather - Connie's wedding scene
    These people ARE my mother's family (watch it here). Not the mafia part (but maybe - watch out**), but the Italian American thing. The subculture. My mother was born to Edna Mae Fortino and George Lamison. Edna was the youngest of three children from Cosenza, Calabria in Italy and the first to be born in America. My whole extended family came over to Ellis Island, NY and settled in Baltimore, Maryland and Elkhart Indiana (to build the railroads). There are so many Fortinos, Falbos and Delucas - I still have to ask my mom, 'How are we related again?' I went to a lot of Italian weddings. And ate a lot of cannoli. What gets me is how my family embraced being in America, the land of opportunity, but clung so tightly to their traditions, their food, their culture and their fabulous Italian-American dialect. So please, refrain from playing La Tarantella or my mascara will run. 
* I feel an affinity since my dad's family (Engler) are from Germany. I'm your typical American mutt from a long line of immigrants.

** Legend has it my great-grandfather, Pietro Fortino, played cards with Al Capone in Chicago. They got friendly, and apparently Al asked Pietro if he'd like to get involved in 'the business'. Pietro promptly moved to another state.


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