I was at the local chicken man a few days ago, and what I observed there struck me fairly forcibly. Not the fact that I went there to choose my victim for dinner – that would have been shock enough for many Americans, to look my dinner in the eyes and say – “that one.” No, this was even worse…..I noticed that the chickens were all congregated together in an open area at the rear of the shop, with nothing between them and the open street but a low, four-inch-tall barrier. They all stayed together, squawking only when the man went among them to choose the next victim, and then settling down again while the newly chosen was slaughtered, de-feathered, eviscerated, cut into portions, bagged and paid for. I caught myself thinking: RUN!! RUN!! as the feathered ones settled down to nap again.
Then I began thinking about me and the chickens. Sometimes I am comfortable in my situation, too, with nothing between me and freedom, settling in for a nap, when what I should be doing is screaming: RUN!!!! I woke up enough, with the help of my husband, to do that once in my life, when we sold our belongings and emigrated from the United States to live and work overseas. We wanted to travel and see some of this wonderful planet we live on, and he suggested that instead of waiting for retirement, that we just work abroad and travel while there, earning a living. It meant that we could travel some while we were still young enough and limber enough to actually do it, and also that we got to live there for a time, which is vastly different from visiting there on a vacation.
Besides, when we got overseas and I began my first job there, it felt like I was on vacation for the first few years, and when I accepted another job in another country, the “on vacation” excitement returned full-force again. Seriously cool. Plus, since I do not make enough money to have to pay US taxes on my teaching income, I have A BETTER standard of living now than I did when I earned, on paper, much more money in the US. This is also seriously cool. And what is best of all is that I am no longer supporting an US government gone totally out of control. I can hardly credit what I read about how my beloved country is rather quickly morphing into a dictatorship, complete with rampant civil rights abuses, scandal and illegal behavior that passes for political business-as-usual. At least I am not helping to finance them anymore. That is the coolest beans EVER.
So, I am an expatriate, like Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and countless other disaffected Americans whose works I read and teach to my Literature students. Wonder if one day my ramblings might actually amount to something, too. Like Bogart in Casablanca, I sit in an American cafe across from the US Embassy in Casablanca, awaiting my woman friend to return from her interview with US government officials to see if she, also, can get her visa to leave Morocco. If God wills, she will, and then we three travelers will embark on the next chapter of our journey through life.
Moving to a new country also gives one the opportunity to start over, begin afresh. So, I will make changes in my lifestyle that I have known for a long time were the right thing to do, but have been too lazy to do before now – a new page, a new life. Time to BEGIN!!