I stared at the map on the screen for an hour—okay, it wasn’t an hour, it only felt like an hour. In reality, I was probably only staring for an uninterrupted two or three minutes, but as the information sunk in, and my heart dropped—it felt like an hour.
I stared at the little blue winged Air Force icons sporadically placed throughout the map of the continental US, each one signifying a USAF base, and possibly our next home. My eyes kept scanning from one to another, my mind searching for any knowledge I may have of each region, state, or nearby major city. I attempted to imagine my life stateside, in a vain attempt to prioritize my choices—as if my opinion were at all relevant to our impending orders.
Only moments before, my husband had given me confirmation that we didn’t get picked up on orders to Aviano, Italy. This means—we are returning home, to the United States.
However, after seven years abroad (which has essentially been all of my adult/married life), the United States hardly feels like home. The United States is the place I visit annually to see people I love. The United States is the place where I am constantly reminded of my inadequacy with corporate visual pollution (but don’t worry—they have the magic product to make you perfect, just give them you money.) The United States is where the main streets are filled with manufactured chemically-inspired-foodish-substances and carcinogenic laden products created in China. The United States where many of my college educated human-friends struggle to obtain livable wages. The United States is where as women, we still have to fight for legislation to allow us to make decisions regarding our own bodies.
I am American, and I do respect and enjoy many aspects of American life—in turn, however, there is much that I find tremendously disheartening (ongoing economic instability, growing wealth gap, impending class war, the insistent ineptitude of congress, our excessive use of unsafe chemicals in our food, etc.) While I am living abroad, for the most part, these issues don’t impact my daily life. I can distract myself. Foods in local stores aren’t allowed to have a lot of the chemical contaminants we use regularly in the US–because, you know, a certain amount of poison consumption for mass population is completely acceptable as long as corporations can continue to make unimaginably large sums of money from it.
One waiting game is over–we know we don’t have orders overseas. However, that has only opened up another one–waiting for our US listings, and then waiting to see what orders we eventually receive upon the delightful whim of the military.
While saddened by a lot of goings-on in my country of residence, I am working on focusing on the positive features of returning to life in the US.
~I will be much closer to family and friends. I will be able to visit family on Christmas, and attend my friend’s wedding.
~I will be able to shop local, and return to a predominately vegetarian diet.
~I may be able to find and volunteer at local no-kill animal shelter.
~Slightly more unusual products and ingredients will be more readily available (Coconut oil, Kale, Spinach, etc.)
~I will be able to read local papers, magazines and marketing.
~It will be easier to submit and transport my art for potential exhibitions.
~I should also be able to meet and connect with other artists easier.
~Community or museum art classes/lectures may be available.
~For the most part, I will understand social/cultural norms and expectations.
~We will probably receive more and more frequent visitors, since traveling to us will be much easier and cheaper.
~I will be able to shop for clothing items not-online, and find sizes that fit my super tall/slightly slim body size.
~We will be able to buy furniture more easily.
~We can finally buy a king-sized bed (maybe), since two adults over 6ft. and a greyhound don’t fit super well in a Queen-sized bed.
~I will be able to visit more art exhibitions.
~I will be able to start a little garden.
~We will enjoy the simple pleasures of larger streets, water pressure, and reliable electricity.
~I will have sidewalks, enabling me to take my dogs for walks more frequently.
~We may even live in a city with a dog park, or dog-friendly community (one where you can take your dog to the coffee shop or bar patios).
~I won’t have to be defined by the Air Force, I will be able to apply for jobs on the local economy.
~I will be able to speak the language of local nationals (although, the fact that I am even referring to fellow Americans as ‘local nationals’ is fairly indicative of the fact I may have been living abroad for too long?)
~I will be able to make friends with more people outside of the military (of course, I am not implying that I have anything against members of the USAF, it is simply fun to have variety in meeting potential friends.)
~I should be able to buy more art supplies locally.
~I should also be able to but healthy dog food locally (because it isn’t much fun ordering it online.)
~Maybe I will live somewhere with neat local farmers’ or art markets?
~We will be able to see more live music and theatre.
~We will always be able to read menus.