Dear United States of America,
I am unabashedly, devotedly in love with you. And on this day, with all the hearts and flowers surrounding me, I thought I should let you know.
It happened so slowly I couldn’t feel any difference until that one moment when it struck me hard. I fell in love, I’m embarrassed to say, five years ago. But I haven’t written you a word on the subject. And for that, I offer my most sincere apology.
Let me tell you exactly how it happened. I became unapologetically patriotic that summer (you remember it, don’t you?) that I put on red-white-and-blue spandex and cycled across the country.
You might think it was the awkward outfit, the group of twenty-something, do-gooders who biked alongside me, or the efforts we put into changing the affordable housing crisis. Or perhaps you think it was your epic vistas or the mayonnaise-laden midwestern food that made me love you. Or maybe, if you think I’m very selfish, you might think it was that long use of my body in space that created some strange feeling of love that I mapped onto your contours.
But no, I fell in love with the people that make you up (although, the stuff above certainly helped). I fell in love with the people who spent their weekends, days off, and retirement giving back to their community. I fell in love with the people who let strangers, reeking of sweat and sunscreen and eating everything they could like a swarm of locus, stay in their homes, community centers, and churches. I fell in love with the compassion and genuine interest I was met with, again and again.
I was raised in New York City, where it is exceptionally easy to become an arrogant idiot. I remember before I loved you, when I believed in things like “flyover states” and the “uneducated masses.” How elitist!
I’m here to tell you, today, that I am deeply in love with your lands, with your people, with your government.
My love hasn’t waned since that first moment of realization. It was only bolstered by walking across your lands. And, even now, working in your cities, I feel the love bubbling inside.
Just so you know, on this day, and all days forward, I’m fighting for you.
Thank you for existing.