While we are parked here in Virginia for a few days before flying off to Morocco, we thought we’d share a few more personal things. Like this. Rusty talked a while with his mom before we left Texas, and a few questions were left unanswered. So, this is Rusty’s response to his mother, and, to a lot of you who ask us similar questions.
THIS is why.
A Letter to my Mom
Moms are curious to the point of meddlesome at times, but they just want an insight to the person that they created. They want to know why. Most of all, a mom wants to be involved, loved, and appreciated. Moms know a lot, A LOT. They know when things aren’t quite right, no matter how hard you try to fake it. Moms have a supernatural sense when something is wrong in the life of the person that they created, even if he or she is miles away. But sometimes, a mom doesn’t know. Or rather, she doesn’t understand why. Well, Mom, you are loved and appreciated, and you are certainly involved since most of my possessions are now in your spare closet! But, you don’t know why. This is my letter to you. A letter to my mom. To the greatest mom someone could have.
You had some questions for me that I didn’t really answer. Why am I (are we) leaving? Why do I think the USA is so bad? Why aren’t we going to have a “home” in our home country?
I see people everywhere and they are all doing one thing: working. All the time. At the end, I was driving two hours and working eight. That’s 10 hours per day. Let’s add 30 minutes to get ready and an hour to wind down, we are now at 11.5 hours devoted to work. Adding 8.5 hours of sleep gets us to 20 hours. So, we now have 4 hours to do chores, eat, and the rest is leisure time. That doesn’t seem fun to me. It seems sad, very sad. Yet, others do it. Others work more hours and drive farther, and they get their TWO WHOLE WEEKS a year to themselves. And why? To have a house that is much too big that holds fancy things with a garage full of expensive cars and boats to impress people that they don’t even know or like. I quit! That is not the American Dream, and if it is, I don’t want it.
Mom, that is why I am leaving. Some may call it lazy, I call it “choosing to live.” I want to experience sensory overload in Marrakech. Air filled with the yapping of hagglers and hustlers, the music of snake charmers and the buzzing of motorcycles, the smells of cooked meats and Moroccan tobacco. I want to see the vivid doorways of magical colors and feel the red of the Sahara as the wind whips it onto my skin. And that’s just the first stop. Sure Mom, I’ll miss my giant bathtub and luxurious shower in my former home, but I’ll miss the world even more. Staying in America means being worn and tired. It means working till my ankles and wrists are begging to explode, it means my mind going numb. It means a soul dying. Mom’s don’t want their son’s soul to die. You don’t want that for me, I know it.
Mom, you asked me, “why do you think the USA is so bad?” I don’t. It may be perfect for lots of people, but it’s not for me. And I’ll tell you why. It isn’t the America that I was a kid in, that you raised Jenn and me in. It has changed, very much. We own a tiny place in Thailand. It is smaller than the garage at our former house, yet we are happier there than we have ever been at our 3100 square feet monster in America. It has nothing to do with the living quarters. Our life is simpler in Thailand, you’ve read our posts and listened to us chat in your living room. Fresh food every day, walking, swimming, and just being. But it’s more than the fresh ice cream from a coconut, more than the massages and the happy people, it’s the economics. WHAT?! An economy greater than America. I’m not talking Wall Street or the NASDAQ. The prices in America are SILLY. And why? It isn’t inflation. It isn’t even supply and demand. It’s the American attitude and the willingness to (over)pay for any and everything.
The people in our village in Thailand are beyond poor. Yet, they all have a cell phone. Hmm… In America our cell phone bill is roughly $90 per month per person (if the phone is paid off). No chance that those laborers in Thailand pay $90 a month for anything, they make about $2 per day. Same technology, same connection, why the high price? Because Americans will pay it and the rest of the world won’t. A massage in America is $60-$100 per hour, it’s $6 there. I know you love massages, Mom, so come on!
Mom, you went to a festival a couple weeks ago where a plate full of watermelon cubes and a cored whole-pineapple was $3. THREE DOLLARS (By the way, that’s not a lot more than Thailand)! Yet, a beer was $9. Why? Because Americans pay it. You have been going to Las Vegas for decades. Each trip you and Dad have a GREAT time, but you always have a little complaint. Blackjack odds went from 3:2 to 6:5. The rake is $1 more at poker. Food is going up in price. Resort fees are at every casino. And now, you have to pay to park! It doesn’t stop you from going, it doesn’t stop anyone.
It’s not just in Las Vegas, it’s everywhere. Jump on a hotel booking site, you’ll see hidden resort fees everywhere. In New Orleans, it’s $40 or more to just park! Our condo in Thailand is at a resort. It cost $50,000. The same thing here would be half a million dollars, and why? Because people will pay it. Not me. America is not “so bad,” it just “so isn’t me” anymore. I can do better. I can sacrifice a few small luxuries and just live. So why not?!
“You don’t think you need a home in your own country?” No, Mom, I don’t. We have our place in Thailand, and their rules allow us to stay half the year. Surely, we are going to use the money from our house sale to buy a home in the USA. Actually, no. America will soon (and may already) be a place that I only visit. Our plan is to buy a home in France or Italy. That will be our home. The condo in Thailand is a second home. Strangely enough we currently have a second home without having a first…headscratcher! France and Italy are members of a group of European nations called SCHENGEN. Think of SCHENGEN as its own country and they will let you stay for half the time as well, but no more than 90 consecutive days. With the high cost of living in America, there is no reason to have a home here. In fact, the only reason we will be coming to America is to see you, Mom! So, get the Scrabble board ready. If you make me homemade biscuits I may let you win, maybe!
I hope you will come see us, Mom. I hope you and Dad will come enjoy a white Christmas in Europe at your son’s new home. Warm yourself by the fire, breathe in the crisp fresh air and see the Alps in the distance. We can hop on a train and be at the Christmas markets in no time. I hope you will come sleep in a 200 year-old stone house, wake up and walk with me to the neighborhood café for early morning coffee. But most of all, I hope you understand. You will always be my home, Mom, and I love you.