loving and leaving america

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Via Anil (who's finally posting links again, hurrah!), I found this extraordinary essay on the experience of living abroad, and how it can change the way you see your own country. Beautifully written. Here's a (small) excerpt:

Ten years ago, my sympathies were all with those healthy sunburnt types with the burgeoning dreadlocks and leghair bleached white by salt and sun, and there's still a lot to be said for living cheap and getting naked without too much critical reflection or hesitation. Those people are having FUN, and they're learning all sorts of important lessons about any number of things, and I don't doubt that most of them will be better people because of the time they've spent in places like the Coban. Now that I'm older and grumpier, however, I find that I can only really hang with them until that inevitable first bit of geographical comparison, the jabbing aimlessly in midair with a joint or cig, eyes half closed and staring off at some impossible, unreal ocean sunset and declaring that this, and not America, is the good life, the life worth having. "America sucks, man. All that noise, all that dishonesty, all those people too busy to really talk to each other."

I packed around that baggage for a long time, and sometimes I think the circumstances that landed me in international human rights law have long since receded from their original sincere highwater of post-adolescent big ideas to some sort of reflex globalism, some limbic system level preference for that easy living, nonintrospective rejection of skyscrapers and the need for clean clothes.

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on August 3, 2006 3:00 PM.

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