On the Flip Side

It has been nearly 13 years since I packed up my bags and left the US for a change of pace. Life abroad has been much more satisfying to me, and the experiences I have had infinitely more grand than what seemed to be in my future should I have resolved to “settle” into the existence that was before my eyes in Georgia. I know that life is what you make it … I just chose to make it “across the pond”. To resolve a few quandaries folks seem to question me on, the first four years abroad were mostly spent in Scotland (working in hostels), Czech Republic (as an English teacher) and a brief stint in Germany (as a failed love interest). These moments in time were quit peppered with jaunts back to the US for one reason or another, but then I set up permanent residence in Poland and have been around Kraków for almost nine years now. I have never regretted my decision to leave, and, to be honest, could never ever see myself moving back to the US for any reason at all. Plague, swine flu, war, fire from the sky … bring it on! Of course I would do what I had to do to keep my family safe, but my choices would be to go almost anywhere but “home”. I would search out some other place of refuge in the world (Syria, Norway or back to Scotland spring to mind) and do what must be done. This has nothing to do with political or economic or even family reasons; I just find the “good ol’ US of A” a bit alien to me nowadays. There is something about it less social, more paranoid and more money oriented that I don’t agree with. For the “land of the free”, there also seems to be an infinitely higher degree of censorship (and this comment coming from someone who resides in a devout Catholic and former communist bloc country). I don’t think a lot of people would find what I have done the “better way” for themselves, and America, I am sure, holds some wondrous opportunities and values for many people … it just doesn’t sit right on my palette; so much so that I have only been for a visit once in the past eight years. Of course there are problems with any place you live (I can’t find beef jerky, root beer or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in Poland; iTunes can’t seem to settle application, music or film licensing rights issues between all the different Eastern European countries; and Guinness is expensive in Kraków), but when it comes down to it, my gripes really are quite minor.