The other day someone asked me if living in the US again is what I expected.
Yes and no.
I think I had fears of moving back to a country of SUVs, disposable everything, hyper-consumerism, big and loud and bad reality tv.
The thing is that when you’re overseas you tend to see some mythical mishmash of the worst of the US. Strip malls and big box stores. Loud ignorant people who can’t point to their country on a map. A cultural bubble that pushes the rest of the world to the margins.
In reality that world doesn’t really exist, or at least not where I am. I love New England. I love the hard working, honest people and the unique small towns. I love that ‘Main Street’ still exists, despite box stores creeping in.
I love living close to Boston and New York. I love reading the Sunday New York Times and discussing the articles with friends. I love living in a college town where almost everyone is a world traveller (and the world comes here), producing cosmopolitan tastes. I love that people work hard to support local farms and enterprise.
Yeah, SUVs kind of suck, but families are bigger here and don’t fit into compact cars. While I hate box stores in theory, in reality I love the convenience of Target. Yes, there are a lot of big things and personalities here, but in my local area things are very low key.
I’ve also moved back to an area that places a strong emphasis on sustainability, though we still need to work on fair trade.
I’ve discovered that now that I know the European authors and musicians to look for, you can find them here. They may not be on every billboard, but they are in the NYT Book Review. And there’s a great theater in town that shows indie films.
Yeah, there are moments in the big malls where I hyperventilate a bit, but I can choose how much I want to be part of that world. In my little corner of America I can make the life that I want to live with minimal interference from the values I feared.