There are a number of reasons I've been thinking about becoming an expat. It's a surreal thing to admit to yourself, at least for me. Embarassing. What's the best thing to do?
Much of this country is with me in my mind. West coast. The lush greenery and fog in the northwest. Mountain west. Rolling Plains. The midwest. The deep south. And Texas. I imagine I'd like the parts I haven't seen, New England and NYC for instance. From Mt. Ranier to Yellowstone to the Badlands and the Ozarks to the Redwoods, it's been my experience that we have a truly beautiful country where it hasn't been mangled and paved. Isn't it gorgeous? As an amateur botanist and as an indigenous person, the first thing I always notice when I'm walking or in a car is the plantlife, or the birds. Living in a place with different species of trees and perrenials seems like a knife in the heart.
And it is a prosperous nation. Sometimes, it almost seems like I have friends in every damn prestigious school and metropolis you can think of: Yale, Oxford, George Washington, Notre Dame, Wellsley, NYU, Columbia, Gonzaga, Emerson, Kenyon et al. I know educators, developers, doctors, prosecutors, judges, litigators, mechanics, people in retail and hippies. I know Catholics, Mormons, observant Jews, Muslims, American Indians, Sikhs. And I never really thought I could leave my homeland. But that prosperity does not seem within reach.
And so I'm considering that decision now.
It is one vision of depravity to be bled dry slowly by your insurance companies when you have a serious health problem. It is another to not even have health and dnetal insurance and to have such problems. My ability to have meaningful relationships, to write cogently, to succeed in education and work are all compromised by a health condition which is usually chronic, lifelong and expensive to treat. I can remember things from decades ago with crystal clarity but not what happened yesterday. This condition, while usually not immediately dangerous, can ultimately result in a heart attack even in an otherwise healthy, not-at-risk individual.
It's one sick rat race to reduce people to burying themselves in debt today so they aren't on the streets tomorrow. It is another to be denied credit for all the boostraps pulling because you've never had credit. For so many millions of Americans who "get" things like this, who say in polls that they would now have voted for Gore or Kerry over Bush, we live in a very sick country, with political institutios that are alternately weak or bloated. Change is not about the ability of a leader to fight off every damn industry and the forces of the GOP. It's about the people to create an educated and calculated movement and overwhelm the corruption. We're getting there, but we're not there as a group. As a nation. Not until it is in stone.
I'm not going to be petty and make my thoughts about moving about which Democratic candidate is the nominee. Really there's none of them that I believe, regardless of what they say, can effect any of what they're trying to say without a far bigger committment than what I've seen to Senate and House races. Healthcare or whatever your big issue is. Edwards, God bless him, can't do that without enough progressives in Congress. And right now we have an off-and-on Benedict Arnold Congress.
But there's also a spiritual void in this country. For all my great friends, many of them are either going seperate ways in life or are not my age. We Millenials are a strange group. We're capable of great enthusiasm about volunteering and charitable causes, are either technically deficient or very capable workers. And yet when we meet people we're the most likely people, in my experience, to take a good look at a person's hair and shoes and clothes the first thing when we meet them. Or to demand more material resources than reasonable from a dying ecosystem.
Demographics give many of us reason to hope for my generation, due to our political leanings. I would compare us to the "morally complacent" GI Generation--civic minded and compassionate, and yet simultaneously materialistic. Overall, good hearted people.
While political progressivism is expanding, my own life experience dating and friending in three major cities paints a different picture of our culture. I know many people who go to Barnes and Noble or the common bookstore chain. But mostly its to read magazines and literature comparable to if not Harry Potter--not slamming Harry Potter, merely pointing out it's disturbing when that's all you can find most people reading. In fact, other than my friend at Columbia, none of these guys or girls at any of the above mentioned-academic pinnacles reads in their spare time, and this was even before they entered college. The fraction of young people (18-25 or so) I know who care for politics at all is minimal, even if they hate Republicans more than Democrats. Oh. Wait. I know a few idiots who like Ron Paul, and of course my friend at Wellsley likes Clinton. Most young people I know who are interested in nature really just like to get drunk out in the woods more than any real concern for conservation: for every young person I can find who will actually go hiking with me there are about 15 baby boomers or silent generationers I know who will.
This is not to rag on my generation, many of my friends in my age group are good workers, are very bright, funny and overall compassionate when shocked out of their bubbles. I believe my generation will continue to improve this country, I really do. But dating seems to have become impossible, friendship is made difficult having to work so much. Such long intervals and long commutes just to see someone you can hang out with is not an improvement on the overworking culture in Japan, where at least the corporate culture has an ingrained sense of responsiblity and fraternity.
I'm not really sure where I could be happy, estranged from home. But the reality is it takes a long time to establish residency or obtain citizenship in order to obtain civilized education or health care. If you're making the decision between life and happiness, well you need life first, and this isn't a happy way of living anyway. Not really.
So I will vote for the Democratic candidate. Definately work my ass off for Andrew Rice, Larry LaRocco and as many House races as I can reasonable involve myself with. In the anticipation of a day when people like me, and working families will not fear for each other's wellbeing.
Some of you have the courage or the mere privilege to wait. You've been waiting long, and I commend that. Not even waiting but fighting. I will always fight, but my ability to wait is waning.
And then I may flee the insanity this country has become, thirty years since Nixon and twenty since Reagan. I will always carry the very happy memories in my heart. Of Multnomah Falls, of waiting for the @#$%ing bison to cross the highway, the beaches of Southern California, theatre and art in Seattle and San Francisco, and most importantly the people there with me.
I'm inclined to believe this is the most wonderful country I could ever know, despite the fact that you and I have been lied to about almost everything for forty years or more. There are no people I've come across who are as both infuriating and lovable as the Yankee and the Southerner.