Humans are tribal creatures. Just consider those who faithfully stomp through rain and snow to the Bears game. You can tell the Bears tribe by their chosen gear. Bears caps, Bear jerseys, Bears jackets and scarves, Bears-wear everywhere. It’s how the Bears show their affiliation to the tribe.
Some believe this affinity to herd with your kind is due to natural selection, part of the factory-installed DNA of our mammalian inheritance, but not everyone stays within their original tribe. Even some Bears fans evolve into Packers fans.
Born into a WASP middle-class tribe in New Jersey, Christmas was Santa Claus and presents; Easter dyed eggs and sugar. Religion was pro-forma. With my family’s move to Texas when I was in middle school, I added Texan to my affiliation, complete with the pronounced drawl to prove my bona fides. At 17-years of age I went away to a number of colleges to try on a greater variety of identities, everything from Drama Mama to Sorority Sister, Party Girl to Hippie Lite. In the end, I moved to Peru to marry The College Boyfriend and called myself a Sadie, a married Jewish lady in a nod to my new affiliation.
With the birth of our child, I was a Mommy; with the mandated purchase of an Apple computer in 1987 for our child’s schooling, I was an Early Adapter. The evolution of my tribal life required me to take on and discard tribal affiliations at will.
Through our family’s choice to live abroad in six countries over two decades, I was an Expat. As an expat, I was at home abroad; a foreigner in my own homeland. It is within this tribe I was, and still am, most at home. These are people I relate to and with.
The life of an expat taught me how to step back from the microcosm of my small spot on the map to see the wider world through the strangers’ eyes. From an airplane there are no tribal or territorial divisions. These are artificial constructs of humanity.
Tribal affiliations have dual natures. As a safe harbor in times when we are lost at sea, my expat tribe takes me in and nods understanding. On the other hand, tribes all too often can devolve into us into us versus they, with the analogous fear and loathing of those people.
But like riders jammed elbow to nose on a CTA bus at rush hour, we must share our space with others. Whether we like or hate the other, we share more than just space with them. We share the temporality of our mortality. You + Me = We
And yes, sorry for my son whose San Francisco 49ers won't be in Christie-land.