I woke up with a start. Sat straight up. Is someone in our house? Did one of my kids call out to me? What was that noise? And as my head clears I realize…the noise is gone. The low hum of electricity cannot be heard. As I blink the sleep from my eyes I realize it is absolutely pitch black. No small green LED lights blinking 12:00 endlessly, glowing the dark away. No nightlights permeating through the cracks underneath the bathroom doors.
My cells literally feeling like they are throwing the party of the century. My body, for once, feels completely and utterly relaxed.
You see, with WIFI and other wireless devices it is like a maze of traps out there. And unless you want to live your life like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible and contort, maneuver and bend your body in every which direction so as to not run into said, invisible connections – everywhere – you walk through these electronic currents, so potent your cells twinge before crossing that line. That current is like “whatever”, totally unphased by your intrusion. In fact you are not considered an intruder to the line crossing. We are all habitual line steppers and the object we cross is usually unphased. What has been intruded upon, is us. We are the affected ones. Our bodies are the ones that have to accommodate this unnatural electricity, live with it in every waking moment (and sleeping).
So there I was, sitting straight up in bed, it is barely 3am. There is no low humming of electronics; there are no little “bright” spots from LED lights. All there is, is utter silence and I am not sure I can compare that to anything more comforting than knowing my kids are happy and healthy. Because when my body is not being tormented and overwhelmed by technology, that is when I am happiest and healthiest.
I love when my house loses power. My husband and I usually peel ourselves off the couch, get some candles and play cards.
I know that I have the power to turn off the power to my house at any time. The issue is not that, it is living in a lifestyle that demands electricity at every turn. Cooking the meals for the family. Washing clothes. Removing particles from the carpets. Taking my kids to their school. Going to get food supplies. Re-heating my cup of coffee for the 5th time that day. Reading my children books at night. It seems like every step I take I need to have electricity to help get the job done. Yes, I could probably get the job done without electricity. Yet in our society, our modern-day culture, probably not. There are now too many things to do, so spending an hour or so washing our laundry in the nearest stream, and then hanging it to dry are not practical. Nor, do I think my neighbors would appreciate me washing our clothes in the nearby stream.
I am about to present to you an idea I do not speak freely about. Mostly because I am afraid of being judged or taken the wrong way. Here is my dream. It is extreme. But if anyone knows me, I mean really knows me, they’ll totally get it. I want to liquidate our assets here in the US. Sell our home, pay off all of our debt. Sell most everything. Valuables and memorabilia will go into storage. What we can take, we will. I’d want the transition to our new home to be as comfortable and as less shocking to my children as possible. We’ll totally ship their favorite toys and stuffed animals. The age that my kids are at right now, is perfect. They have yet to secure strong bonds with friends. They have not even started grade school yet. We would not be pulling them out of their lives; we would only be allowing them to experience the next chapter. Back to the dream: Fiji. Instead of buying a lot and building a house right away, which we totally could, we would maybe rent a small home and see if this is what we want. I know that it does take a while to get working visas but that the locals are welcoming and my husband could become an apprentice on a sport fishing boat as soon as we land. Eventually he could buy a boat and start the long process of building a sport fishing business for the tourists who venture there.
Why Fiji? Well, let’s face it, it’s paradise. I have done some research and have found that the lots and/or housing prices are in our price range. I have studied the culture a little and find it fascinating. Very altruistic atmosphere. I appreciate island living having spent quite a lot of time on Kauai growing up. I love the simplicity. I have a feeling that moving there will bring to the surface the core values I feel the most drawn to, that I can’t seem to gain here. Also, Fiji is mostly land-snake free. Look, I don’t know first hand how the daily life is over on the islands of Fiji, obviously. Hence the idea of moving somewhere and experiencing the life of an expatriate. I study and read expat websites and blogs. I follow people who have done the move. I know that there are International schools for my children. I know that video games are not the way of daily life for the local children because you are not guaranteed electricity. Most importantly I know that I know very little.
I do understand the mosquito phenomenon, compliments of my Dad whom resides on Kauai, that “even paradise has mosquitoes.” There are down falls. Products that I have come accustomed to will be harder or impossible to get. I know that there is less of a variety of food to choose from. We will be even further from our family. A lot further. Intellectually, I understand the ramifications of becoming an expat who does not have an endless flow of financial means. Emotionally, that is something I am willing to face.
What I do not want in life is to live the American dream. I know a lot of people are happy with that idea. To each their own. I do not want to be judged that I am “anti-American.” I am not. I love my country. What I don’t want is to work 9 hours out of the day, to see my children for only 2 hours at night and repeat for the next 4 days. Getting two days off to take the small money I have earned and go to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond and buy meaningless crap that will make my house look prettier than yours. There is more to life than to have an end table from Pottery Barn. Than to have a sheet set made with a thread count of 10,000. There is more to life than to spend most of it at a place of work so that I may be able to pay my bills and not much more. I believe in my heart and soul that I was meant for a different way of life. A life where electronics did not rule the house. Where my children grew up not learning how to shoot people via game-like simulations and where there is an educational system that does not make me feel like I am throwing my kids to the wolves every day. A life where I could possibly spend my days doing what I feel I was meant to do, volunteering at local orphanages and schools. Holding babies that need to be held. Helping children to write their names.
And yes, I know the concept of help your own country first. I have thought long and hard about that. First of all, you need certificate after certificate to do what I want to do. To hold babies or become foster parents there are hoops I don’t want to jump through. Besides, it is so expensive to live in this country that to volunteer my time would be to take it away from my own children. So why don’t I move to Africa? Where there is a lot more help needed?
Baby steps. If getting my husband to move to Fiji is near impossible (he has already said no) than to get him to Africa ain’t gonna happen.
Let me just back up. I am married. To a wonderful man. A man I adore. He is more American than any other man I have ever met. He has never been out of the United States (no, Tijuana at age 18 does not count). He does not mind trudging to work every morning. Making that long commute. Making a decent living for his family. He’s more than happy to fix the roof or that pesky leak on the weekends. He is more than happy to live the same week over and over again until he gets to his one vacation a year. There is nothing wrong with that. Not for one second. I do not mean to generalize my husband. He is so much more than a routine. He has passions and dreams. The fact is that I am envious of him. He is simply happy being… Unfortunately, he married me. I start getting antsy. I start reading books and studying cultures and living vicariously through my traveling friends and start to realize….there is a world out there and I don’t want to wait until I am retired to see it. There is another way of life out there and I want to experience it, now.
I have never felt comfortable with the American dream. I have always strived for it but that is because I thought I was supposed to without really thinking, is that what I want? I was not told as a child that I could go anywhere. I was not encouraged to travel and unfortunately I did not figure that out myself until now. Now that I am not free to make decisions based solely on what I want. I have a husband and two children I need to think about and to consider. Then again, so do they with me.
My husband suggested that maybe I’m just not happy anywhere. Ouch. We moved to Colorado from Southern California because of my wanting to, coupled with a job offer for my husband. I am drawn to a more natural atmosphere and setting. I want to set the record straight – I am happy. If I am with my family, I am happy. I have a very blessed life. My wanting to move out of the country has nothing to do with being unhappy. It is the need for adventure. To experience life outside of the United States. So, since we moved to Colorado based on my wanting to, my turn is over? I am not deserving of having anymore dreams? All of my dreams came true, end of story, be quiet now.
Look, I have always been different. I have always wanted a different lifestyle for myself and my family. I cannot pinpoint why I want to have adventures or why I cannot sit still. I absolutely do not believe just because you have kids you have to settle down. Why I get caught up in material things when I am in that setting. All I know is that I don’t want to hold material items as superior. I don’t want to get caught up in that way of life. I want to submerge myself into a life of less is more. To experience cultures. To get out of my own ego. I want all of those things not only for me, but particularly for my children and I just can’t see that happening in the United States.
Awe…..to see my husband go fishing every day for his job would make my smile glow, like the LED lights on those days where there is no power outage.