When we returned to the US, it was with the idea that we would evaluate it as the site of our long-term base. We found a couple of house sits that enabled us to slowly readjust to life in the US as well as to connect with important people before we return to Washington state.
In Florida, Tigger was able to meet up with one of his online buddies. In Texas, we reconnected with special friends we met via travel. We also were able to spend a couple of weeks with a friend I had met here in Texas 11 years ago. His son and Tigger are close in age, so it was good for both boys.
We were able to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family, which was a special treat in itself.
We are in the final week of our San Antonio house sit, and soon we’ll be returning to Washington to begin our last planned sit.
We recently had an offer for a sit on Vancouver Island in Canada and would’ve loved to do it, but Tigger is expressing significant travel fatigue. We’ve been in the US for 1-1/2 months now, but we’ve lived in 6 different homes and 4 cities in that time.
For the first time I heard him say “I’m over travel.” I get it.
The Washington sit is a big one for us as we will be deciding if we’re staying in the US or returning to Europe. Right now Romania is looking really good. It isn’t that we’ve had bad experiences here, but there are some things working against the US in our mind.
- Expense. This wasn’t a surprise, but it is a tough pill to swallow. Our quality of life is much higher in eastern Europe, and I don’t have the same level of money stressors there.
- Transportation. Again not a surprise, but it is so hard to live in most of the US without a car. We really miss the great public transportation in most other countries, especially when trying to travel between cities. I can drive to downtown San Antonio in about 15 minutes, but by bus it takes at least an hour. I can actually walk to one place a couple of miles from here faster than if I rode the bus. Supposedly, the bus system in Bellingham is much better. If that’s true, that will be nice.
- Fighting a culture of fear. The media peddles so much fear it can be really tough to feel comfortable here. I find myself increasingly more concerned about making a misstep that lands me in jail. People call the police for the most amazing things. While walking on a trail, I was approached by a police officer. He informed me that someone had seen “a couple of homeless guys leaving the woods, and it was suspicious.” As I left the trail, I discovered at least three different police searching for these suspicious homeless people. I don’t think my fellow Washingtonians are quite at that level of ridiculousness, but I don’t know anymore. When we were in Austin 5 years ago, it was such a friendly place, and it is no longer that way. Will Washington surprise me in the wrong way?When we were grocery shopping, I sampled a grape from a bunch I wanted to buy. Immediately Tigger was concerned I would get in trouble for it. “Can you do that here?” During most of our travels we’ve bought produce from vendors at local markets, and they gladly hand you samples before you purchase so this was a bit of a new experience for him. His question made me paranoid.We haven’t been here for even 2 months so far, and I’m already tired of the fear that terrorists and child molesters are lurking around every corner. Tigger can be rather opinionated, and as we tend to talk a lot about things he isn’t shy about expressing his thoughts in public. I find myself trying to prevent squirming in my seat as people give us. . . interesting looks.The reports of people getting stabbed or shot during silly arguments doesn’t help either.
- Rules, rules, and more rules. Most of the places we’ve lived during the last few years have legal cultures that rely more on common sense and personal responsibility. It’s assumed that if you’re climbing on something you may fall. People don’t sue each other for every little ridiculous thing. When we were driving into a state park yesterday, there were multiple signs along the way warning us about all the things we can’t do.
- Family culture. “Why do parents yell so much around here?” Tigger asked me the other day. He chats with a lot of other teens online, and he often hears quite a bit of yelling going on between parents and kids. He has voiced surprise and disgust at the level of disrespect of parents many American kids express. He doesn’t hear it when he chats with non-American kids. They don’t spend their time cutting down their parents like American kids do. He’s perplexed by it, and it makes him feel more alien. The high volume of helicopter parenting he witnesses makes him crazy as well. He feels like he can’t do some things because he’ll either get yelled at by people or arrested.
- General vibe. Tigger commented on the difference between how the US and Europe feel and it surprised me. I completely get where he’s coming from, though. It does feel differently here. MUCH different. I know the Pacific Northwest has a much friendlier vibe historically, so I’m hoping that’s intact when we get there.
Another thing I have considered is that even for short international trips, it just isn’t as convenient to travel from the US. It is so much easier in Europe where being in a totally new-to-us country is just 1-2 hours away. It’s kind of hard to say “Hey, let’s go to Germany this weekend” when you live in the US, especially on the west coast.
There are definitely some pros to remaining in the US, but right now it isn’t feeling like those are strong enough to keep us here. We’re holding off on making any decisions until we’re back in Washington since the Pacific Northwest has a very different culture.
Really, I’m just looking forward to having the decision made. While I don’t share Tigger’s travel fatigue, I’m ready to find a spot that will be “home” for a while.