Firstly, let me just say that I love my country. I'm on social media calling out the corruption and decline I see going on with America not because I get off on that, but because I hate it. I want my country and it's people to be as strong, moral, and prosperous as possible...and I see us collectively continuously making choices that take us in directions far from those three things. I try to wake people up, and people are waking up (not due to me but due to a lot of factors, like the internet being mostly free of interference at the moment). I perhaps play a micro part in this larger macro movement. Yet even though I'm glad people are "waking up" I fear what form that "waking up" will take. More on that another time.
But sometimes I need a break from the slime I read and share daily (and I hope you take many breaks as well...and balance the slime with positive things...sanity is a good thing). I had a long break for two weeks. I was in Bulgaria with my wife trying to work out an adoption of a little boy with special needs. In the end it was a heart breaking trip as the adoption did not work out...but amidst the heart ache it was really good for me to get into another part of the world and gain some perspective.
We are so blessed in this country. Europe has been ripped apart for centuries as little tribes and ethnicities duke it out for land and glory. Our own country has a dark history with slavery and the treatment of native peoples, but despite that we mostly get along and those with the will to succeed mostly can...though crony capitalism and the outsourcing of our economy threaten that. Again more thoughts on that another time.
All I can say is it is kind of a bummer to be back. I met some great people in Bulgaria. The food was inexpensive, healthy, and better tasting than what we eat here in America. I have some health issues and NONE of them affected me when I was in Bulgaria...but literally the day I got back to the States they hit me. Part of that might have been some grace from God just so I could enjoy the trip more...but I have a feeling it was also related the the crap food I eat. In Bulgaria you don't have to go out of your way to farmer's markets or trendy expensive specialty grocery stores to eat healthy because (at least for now) most of their food is organic by default. We here in America are essentially eating bio-engineered dog food...and obesity and health problem are skyrocketing because of it. I LOST weight in Bulgaria even though I ate like a pig because the food was so good and cheap.
Part of that weight loss is the cities in Bulgaria tend to be more designed to foster community. You walk to the city centers and walk to the grocery stores or whatever you need. Sure they have cars but you need them a lot less. I dug going to city centers where people of all ages congregated for people watching, meeting up, letting their kids play, and eating some good food. There are a lot of cities/towns in the USA that are like this, but there are so many (usually the more modern ones) that are not. I miss that already even though the smaller town I live in has this to a degree...but not to the degree that I observed in the towns I saw in Bulgaria.
Lastly dealing with US regulations and bureaucracies is a bummer. The amount of hoops we had to jump through and the expense of our adoption attempt has been staggering. Dealing with security at the airport and filling out the little custom declarations were minor announces but it could be so simplified. And then I got home to some random IRS audit triggered by me being honest on some health care spending that triggered some auditor to declare all my health care spending from my HSA as "income" and hitting me up with a huge bill and penalty. And of course I was gone so I have a very small window to correct this. So I have to deal with documenting all my HSA spending today. Fun times. Welcome back to Amerika, here is a little reminder of how our bureaucracies and corporations are tending to treat us like serfs and revenue streams rather than sovereign citizens. Fill out your little forms and pay your fines.
Of course my stay in Bulgaria had only a limited view. I'm sure daily living and dealing with bureaucracies there might even be worse...but I keep reading how expats that have been away from America for ten years don't even recognize the country when they come back as it is changing (generally for the worse) so fast.
I'm proud of what my ancestors have done here in America. I'm proud of my country's mainly positive impact on the world (despite some dark chapters and the recent wars we screwed up in the Middle East...more on that another time). But in life I'm always about looking for another adventure...looking to hike over another hill hoping that what is on the other side is different than what I just left. My wife and I stood on a hill and looked down into a valley with a lot of possibilities, challenges, and most of all...different. I think that will affect us and possibly lead us to living overseas for a few years very soon. If I can continue to work as I do now my income is high enough to support us both in Bulgaria in a lifestyle that is greater than what my income alone can afford here. If my wife can find something online or in Bulgaria (which will be a pain because of EU and Bulgarian rules) we might find ourselves there in a year or two.
I love my country but maybe I need a break. I acknowledge that Americans even in our decline are still blessed more than any other people in the world. But individual millage might very in the new world order...and I'm mobile so I can test the waters. I think we will test those waters, and have an adventure, leaving our current set of troubles behind for a new more interesting set, all things remaining equal.