To Remain in the United States

Last night i had a brief-sweet conversation with a friend over tea and candlelight. We conversed about the drought; the state just instituted $500 fines for water wasters. My friend, an African from the Kenyan highlands, said that these fines should be more like $2000 – after all, water is the most important substance for life on Earth next to air.

We shared feelings that the coming shortages of basic necessities, namely water and food, will be good for the people of the United States. In a land so used to excess consumption without accountability, the shortages will force us to grow our own food, create emergency rainwater catchments, and generally become more self-sufficient.

Somehow the conversation touched on global warming, and i mentioned how after the scandalous Copenhagen Climate Conference deal was passed, an African leader called the outcome a “death sentence” for Africa. He replied that scarcity of food and water is no alien thing to Africans, who are used to some of the most extreme living conditions on the planet, including exposure to tropical diseases like Ebola. No, he said, those least prepared to deal with scarcity are the residents of North America. After all, the US consumes 25% of the world’s fossil fuel resources yet makes up only 5% of the global population.

I told this friend of mine how i’m concerned for my survival, and the future of my loved ones in this country. With the ever-militarizing police state, and with the apparent steady unraveling of this society, i remarked, i need to have an exit plan. He couldn’t agree more.

*          *          *

Reflecting on the past 21 months of repatriation, i count my blessings: i’ve been able to eke out a pleasant existence in the San Francisco Bay Area, the only region of this country i have any desire to live in. Indeed, i’ve been thriving here, with the often incredible natural beauty and weather, constant influx of sea air. I’ve been able to eat the quality of food i feel i need. And i’ve begun to create some solid friendships here. My activism is in full swing with a few organizations around here.

That said, i can’t help but feel that i’m missing out on more genuine human experiences in the rest of the world. Here, people are guarded, stressed out, high-strung. I found people to be more genuine and laid back outside of the US, generally speaking. Emotionally, it’s a lot of ups and downs being here, as there’s still this subconscious feeling of mild discomfort, like i don’t belong.

Sure, i am technically American to the core. I was born and raised here, spent 23 years here, after all. That said, i feel culturally in between. I don’t feel American enough necessarily to warrant staying here, yet thinking about Ireland, i’m not sure i would be happy living in that country long-term either. This is why my sights are set on Brazil; i feel that, in order to understand where i want to live, i must go to Brazil. As i’ve told people, going there is not simply a desire for me; rather it’s a magnetic compulsion, a feeling that it’s my destiny to go. Only after staying there a while will i be able to reflect on Ireland, the US, and Brazil to decipher which country i should select to settle down in.

However, i’m not set on settling down. To think that everyone is meant to settle down is foolish. Indubitably, wanderlust never leaves some people.


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