The only thing more awkward than breaking down crying in a French hypermarket is when you utterly forget how to speak the language in that moment and are completely unable to articulate that no, you’re not hurt, you’re just in complete and utter destabilizing shock at the fact that anyone anywhere, let alone an entire country, has access to such a wide variety of foods at such an inexpensive price.
So then to try to come down from your shock, you take refuge in the nearest McDonald’s, figuring that American-style familiarity will snap you out of it. But it only makes it worse, because even at McDonalds there are twice as many choices and the food is of an infinitely better quality than what you are used to at home.
So you cry some more. You cry because not only has your homeland so quickly descended into what seems to be a hopeless pattern of chaos and violence and hatred, not only is it on the brink of a potential fascist takeover that a significant percentage of the nation enthusiastically supports, but you realize in that moment that even without those dangers that you have been utterly fooled. That even with all your critiques and analysis and skepticism of the capitalist machine and the American Dream, that even you have been fooled by its propaganda machine, even you needed to spend a month in what actually is an first-world country to truly understand that you’ve been living your entire life in a second-world country that’s quickly becoming a third-world country with little to no hope of recovery.
And so you just try to breathe and munch your fries and eat your cheeseburger-on-a-bagel and pray to any gods or spirits that might be listening as you wipe your tears, as you try to regain your composure while trying your hardest to ignore the horrifyingly painful pit in your stomach, the pit that signifies both the mourning and grief you have for your homeland as well as the deep angry fire that burns every time you think of how many loved ones you have back home who are forced to suffer in poverty and to live in fear so needlessly and so without reason.
And you still believe somewhere inside that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice, but you fear that it will not bend that way in time to save us.