Sunday, February 07, 2016

2016 Expat thoughts: Going Home... the long way 'round?

There is a wonderful moment at the end of the 50th Anniversary special of the famous long running  science fiction series "Doctor Who", where  the Doctor (played by Matt Smith)  addresses  the subject of his characters seemingly endless wanderings through time and space,,,

Home... the long way 'round...

It is a sentiment that many of those who live the expatriate life can relate to all too easily. Maybe that is why I became such fan of Doctor Who. He really is the ultimate "expat". Wandering, travelling, but never homeless. Home is out there. He just hasn't found his way back there... yet.

I had my first "expat" experience when I was 15 and was a foreign exchange student in Germany. It is not an overstatement to say it fundamentally changed me, my outlook on, and future path in life. That lead to spending my gap year studying in Germany, and then spending all my Summers in college working at a Summer Camp in the Wetterstein Alps in Bavaria. Then after graduation from University, to my first expat work posting to Asia, in South Korea.

Now I live in London, not because of a work assignment , but because I fell in love with, and then married a Brit. And at the time, the Defence of Marriage Act, (DOMA) forced us, and many other same sex couples to leave the US in order to simply be with our legally married spouses. Now that DOMA has been partially overturned and those legal barriers to spousal immigration are gone, we are getting asked one question repeatedly..

"So.. When are you guys moving to the U.S?"

That is a difficult question, for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is purely logistic. The lengthy, and complicated process of my move from the US to London over 5 years ago was physically, emotionally and financially exhausting. So the prospect of packing up our lives all over again to move half way across the world is a bit daunting. Yet the question keeps being asked, don't I want to come home?

Oscar Wilde once said the United States and Great Britain were two countries separated by a common language. While there so much about life in the UK that is similar to life back home, it is at the end of the day a foreign country, and I am, at the end of the day a foreigner here. A resident alien. So make no mistake, I miss home, as much as  I love our life here in the UK,,  having the clerk at the supermarket say; "Oooh! I just love your accent! Where are you from Luv?", is amusing the first ten times it happens. But when it happens every single time, it gets very old, very quickly.

So the  answer to the question do I want to come home  is, yes of course I do, and eventually I will be heading home,   I'm just going the long away 'round.     Yet as I watch the 2016 U.S. Presidential race take shape, its hard not to feel that going home again, wouldn't be such a wonderful thing after all.

I will be supporting Hillary Clinton in this next election, Friends of mine who support  Bernie Sanders say that he would be a stronger advocate for the LGBT community.  I know he has struck a strong populist cord with many, but his elect- ability is highly doubtful.   Also, I should I am really looking for what will get us closest to a third term for Barack Obama.  Or at least the nearest equivalent thereof.

The  GOP is not, and never could be an option for anyone who cares about civil rights. As a party  they have run  full speed off the cliffs of insanity deciding that the GOP platform would be not to give Americans something to vote for, but rather try to fear monger voters in to what and who they should vote against. (Gays, immigrants, women who want to control their own bodies, people who are not white conservative evangelicals.etc. etc.)

So when I see and hear  ALL of the current Republican candidates for President talk about the need to take away my civil rights, and how using the power of the executive branch of the federal government to forcibly dissolve my marriage  would be one their first priorities upon winning the oval office.  Along with claiming that allowing people and businesses to discriminate against me in the public sphere is "protecting religious liberty";   I can't help but feel that way home growing longer  and longer by the day.    

Living overseas sounds exciting,  friends back in the United States always say how much they envy the life I have. But they don't see the whole picture.   Yes  living as an expat is an exciting and culturally diverse adventure.   Yet at the same time  you are all too aware that should something happen to a loved one at home, like a serious illness or accident,  you are, (under the best of circumstances), at least a full day's travel away, if you are lucky.     

My parents are thankfully both in good health,  but I am all too aware of the distance  from here to there,    My husband being here in the UK,   was unable to get back to Malaysia to see either  his Father or  Mother when they each suddenly took ill and passed away.  I would be lying if I didn't admit that scenario at times wakes me up in the middle of the night. 

So  this next Presidential election will determine just how long that long way 'round actually will be. A President Hillary Clinton would certainly  give us greater options to shorten that journey.   

After all, there's no place like home...

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