Two expats — he from England and she from Germany — first lock eyes in the lobby of a posh hotel in the Big Apple.
Returning to his room from the gym, he stops in his tracks, bowled over by her exotic Northern European beauty, while she is drawn to his toned and muscular physique. (Did we mention that he is of mixed — Nigerian and Brazilian — ancestry, and wearing bicycle shorts?)
She is, as it happens, already carrying another man’s child. But luck is on his side: she has split up with that man, some months back, after catching him in the arms of a jewelry heiress.
The goddess is available!
He wastes no time in sweeping her off her feet and, after less than a year, invites her to a custom-built igloo in British Columbia on the top of an glacier in uncharted terrain — kitted out with a bed, rose petals, and candles — to ask for her hand.
The couple are of course Seal and Heidi Klum — who until recently were the exemplar of a cross-cultural, cross-racial expat marriage.
Happy Valentine’s Day
But we’re here today to celebrate — not caution against — such unions. It’s February 1, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
The Displaced Nation is dedicating the month to international nomads who are out there looking for their own Heidi/Seal. Some of you may already have found a candidate, in which case you are busy decking out your version of Seal’s igloo with hearts and champagne, in preparation.
But whether you’ve found someone or not, the Displaced Nation is where you’ll want to hang out this month. We’ll have posts on Valentine’s Day customs, seductive foods, hook-up stories, and testimony from those who, unlike our celebrity example, have lived happily ever after — all with an international flavor.
And we’ll be celebrating love’s robust and free-wheeling spirit, as unleashed in the following lines:
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
Notably, John Lennon composed these lyrics after the Beatles were to come up with a song for Our World, the first live global television link (it was watched by 400 million in 26 countries). He was told it had to contain a simple message to be understood by all nationalities.
John and Yoko — there’s another international, interracial couple. They were living in New York. Would they still be together if John were alive? One likes to think so…
Hey, listen — should love not prove as easy as the song suggests, our blog can assist with that, too. One of our most frequently visited posts is one I wrote during Pocahontas month last summer: “Cross-cultural marriage? 4 good reasons not to rush into it…” (I’m not exactly proud of that, given that I’m the veteran of two cross-cultural marriages — a case of “don’t do what I do but what I say”?)
Pocahontas-John Smith are of course an archetype of cross-cultural, cross-racial marriage à la Lennon-Ono, Seal-Klum.
Movie-ing right along…
I promise I’ll come back for you. I promise I’ll never leave you.
–Hungarian geographer, Count László de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes) to his married lover, Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), in The English Patient
Sometimes fiction can be more wondrous than truth. Certainly that is the hope of those magicians of cinematography, who seek to manipulate us by reaching through the big screen to move our hearts and change how we see the world, remind us we have a soul…
If you’re a cinema lover, you’re in luck — because we are also dedicating this month to the movies.
In honor of film award season — the BAFTAs as well as the Oscars — The Displaced Nation will spend part of February paying homage to films that in some way feature expats and/or international travel.
Ah, the movies… As you get older, how much preferable it seems to experience danger and romance via the big screen. Why? Because you’re so much more aware of the risks.
Now, if only there weren’t so much bromance about. All of this male bonding is enough to make you long for Hollywood’s Glory Days, when stars were paired for their sizzling on-screen chemistry. Is is any wonder so many of us have turned to the small screen — namely, Downton Abbey — for that sort of thing of late?
Downton has the expat theme going for it, too, with an American heiress — played by Elizabeth McGovern, herself an American expat in England with an English husband — at the heart of the action (her money has kept the British estate from going under). And Shirley MacLaine will be arriving in Season 3 to play her mother!
Okay, I’ve gone off on a tangent. Back to what celluloid has to offer. When asked by Charlie Rose in November to explain the allure of film, Alexander Payne, director of the Oscar-nominated film The Descendants, said:
Like so many people, I’ve been madly in love with film as long as I can remember. If you love film, you love life. It’s the most verisimil [sic] mirror we have… If we look to art in general to be a mirror of our lives, to give us context, give us something to reflect off of — we’ve been waiting millennia for film… it really is us. And it also captures time, it defeats death in a way… You can capture moments of in life, core samples of someone’s life…
I don’t know about you, but I think we displaced types deserve a piece of that action!
Questions: Do you have any Valentine’s Day abroad stories to share with us? Are you rooting for any particular films at this year’s Oscars? And is anyone else besides us left feeling oddly bereft at the news of Heidi and Seal’s break-up?
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s episode in the life of our fictional displaced heroine, Libby Oliver. Having uncovered corruption in Patsy’s Munchkinland, Libs wonders what to do. Should she inform WikiLeaks of the situation, or write a strongly worded letter to the Woodhaven Observer? Or is it just simpler to say ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’? (What, not keeping up with Libby? Read the first three episodes of her expat adventures.)
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