This blog is kinda all over the place, but it (not so) neatly sums up how I feel being home. It's been two weeks now and the adjustment has been strange. The first week wasn't bad at all, though the jet lag was the worst I've ever experienced. I don't even remember my first whole day back because it was spent in such a daze. I would get massively tired in the early evening for the first week and then I would be up by 5 or 6 AM every morning. But the jet lag isn't the focus of this blog. The readjustment to home seems to be getting harder as time goes on, which is what I half-expected. I knew I wouldn't want to stay here but I figured that, after moving every 2 months, I'd get the itch to leave after 6 weeks or so, not 1.5. I'm honestly shocked at how quickly Buffalo has gotten to me. It's hard in a different way than how it was when I got home from Italy in 2004. Then, I was literally heartbroken because I fell in love with the allure of that amazing country. I've now lived in 5 different countries and I miss each them in a different way but I'm excited for and dying to get to the next step, not mourning the past like I did in 2004.
Now that this whole incredible experience is over, I need to figure out what my next step is. I've been dreading this moment all year and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I kept telling myself that it would all be worth it because of the amazing experience I had. It was all totally worth it, but it doesn't make this moment any more fun. I now get to figure out what to do after living a dream, traveling the world, getting my Master's degree and incurring a $60,000 debt. The plan for the past few months has been to ideally end up in DC and get a job with an environmental organization but that obviously is subject to this wonderful economy in which we all currently find ourselves. So, I'm left debating my options.
Having been home only two weeks, I'm shocked at how quickly I've become aggravated with things here in Buffalo and in the States in general which potentially throws my ideal plan to move to DC into question. First off, Buffalo isn't for me. I've known that for some time and now that I've lived in 5 other cities, I know for certain that I'm not a big fan of it here. I'm now used to having a city at my fingertips. I'm used to uncertainty. I'm used to being able to explore. I'm used to a certain energy; a pulse of life and a drive in people. None of that exists in Buffalo. The attitude here is maddening to me now: many people are content with the whole "same shit, different day" mentality and while that may be fine for them, I refuse to let that become my reality. I find it hard to relate to people in many ways, like I'm some sort of alien who was just dropped into the middle of life here who's disconnected from everything in a way that's impossible to fix. People are content with their cars and their houses and worrying about their menial problems. Even my favorite places here have lost their luster. One of the things I missed most when I was gone was the ability to just drive to a park and let go and relax. Parks here now bore me. The magic they once held is gone because I've become enthralled with the magic of travel and new experiences. I miss being able to walk everywhere; I hate this need to drive to every single place I need to go. There's nothing to do here. I don't want to watch TV. I don't want to do the same stuff I've done for years on end. So obviously, I need to get out of Buffalo as fast as fucking possible, but then the question becomes obvious: where shall the Ed! go?
Coming back to the States held a certain draw but one of the things that freaks me out the most right now is there is no place that I can go to within this country that would allow me to escape its current political state. While I was overseas, it was easy to feel unattached to what was going on back here. There was a physical distance and even the slight temporal difference helped to create a sensation of "what's going on back home does not affect me right now." Now that I'm home, the media's fascination with this Tea Party nonsense is infuriating me. Before, it was an inconvenience and a bit of a batshit insane circus freakshow but now that I'm realizing that these idiots are receiving so much attention while any real progressive ideas are never discussed, the amusement I once felt regarding them is turning quickly to unabated anger. This apparent revival of conservative ideals honestly is probably driving up my blood pressure on a daily basis. I just don't understand people, no matter how hard I try. How could anyone think it's a good idea to give conservatives control of Congress again after what they and Dubya did to this country? Is our collective memory really that short? I just don't understand how people are blind to the fact that the principle reason why Obama has been stymied and has had such problems passing sweeping legislation that would really help the average American is because of constant Republican obstruction (side note: I understand that a lot of the problems also came from Democratic infighting and Obama's reluctance to engage certain issues, so don't bother calling me out on that. Really getting into this issue would be another giant post in and of itself). How does only saying "no" for two years and showing constant irresponsibility make Republicans a more attractive option when what they did is the cause of the mess in which we currently find ourselves? I don't see how a society can possibly think that it's perfectly okay for churches to burn Qu'rans because they feel that an "Islamic ideology" is overtaking America. My country is racist, bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic, chauvinistic and any other possible negative "-phobe" you can imagine and it took the election of a black guy for our truly seedy underbelly to gain the balls to show itself for what it really is. The truly depressing part is that now that these vile views are out in the open, people are becoming attracted to them.
How does this affect me, you ask? And why can't I just ignore it and continue on with my day-to-day life like most of my blind, deaf and dumb countrymen? Simple, I'm not the average American and I never have been. I am a rare American breed in that I actually want to make the entire world a better place. I want to improve the lives of every human, not just my immediate family or only people who look and sound like me. For progressive Americans like me (who receive little media attention, mind you, because we're dangerous to the status quo), there are so many problems that we are trying to fix that it becomes impossible for us to organize well. It's not like fighting gays, blacks and so-called socialism where we're all expected to toe the same line. There's just too much that needs fixing to a progressive and we're constantly stalled from improving the lives of literally everyone because of the selfish attitude that dominates Conservatives and this country. One of the reasons why I went back for International Relations is precisely because I want to improve the condition of the entire planet. I want to see this planet become healthy again and part of me feels like I can do the most good for the environment here in America because we arguably have the most room to improve. But why should I try to fix the situation here when my government could care less? And not only does my government not care but people are becoming increasingly skeptical about the exaggeration of climate change here. Come on, people. The fact that people are buying into such bullshit is alarming. It doesn't take a genius to see how intricately things are tied together and the unravelling has already begun. I'm not convinced that we can stop it.
This country, and it seems this planet as a whole, is overrun with people who just don't care and I can't fathom that. Most people seem content with only focusing on their little lives without seeing what's happening all over the world. They're concerned about losing their jobs to these phantom "illegals" without ever considering the plight that people crossing the border are in. They're concerned about their wages dropping but they could give a shit about people in this country making millions or billions of dollars in companies that pay people in other countries pennies a day. The planet is coming apart at the seams but people can't be bothered to stop driving a bit or recycle more. The world revolves around American concerns and the concerns of the average American rarely go beyond their white-picket fence unless it involves some dumbass bitch on TV from New Jersey. This disgusts me.
Living in my little Global bubble for the last year, I rarely experienced this kind of irritability. I'm honestly shocked that this emotion took hold so quickly. I was literally living a dream and I think that helped a lot and now that it's over, I'm crashing back down to Earth from my nice former life in the clouds (more specifically, Cloud Nine). When I was gone, and even now that I'm home, I felt that one of the most important things I could do was to inspire others with my crazy experience. I feel like that's probably the most positive thing I can do for myself and for everyone else: I need to keep an inspirational attitude going because like I said when talking with a fellow world-traveler who was along with me on my Global experience recently: everyone's in this life together and the less depressing people we have on this planet, the better off we'll all be. I'm sick of seeing people settle for complacency and that's one of the things that gets to me about Buffalo. It's so easy to lose sight of what else we could be doing because life is so easy and affordable here. Letting fear guide your decisions is the worst thing one could do because it just leads to more unhappiness. And what is settling or seeking out complacency if nothing more than a fear of following one's dreams for whatever reason? I don't care if someone from Buffalo is reading this who thinks their life is incredibly difficult. For most who think it is, it's not, trust me. Not that I've experienced it first hand, but people are starving elsewhere. People still live in squalor. People are watching their kids move to polluted cities to work in factories because the farms their families have depended on for generations are no longer viable. Your crappy job, your lack of boyfriend, your broken car or any other stupid problem pales in comparison to what other people around the world go through daily. Go and read something about these situations. Educate yourself. The world doesn't end at the edge of your neighborhood. In fact, learning more about the plight of other people might help you get over your petty problems, and trust me, they are petty. It could help you escape your Little Bubble of Doom which you use to hide from the rest of the world.
In an attempt to either mask this irritation or make it work for me, I've been toying with the idea of turning this into some sort of "inspiration" blog. Someone I know pulls this off very well. I'd do it in a different vein, though. I'm just so sick of people complaining about how awful their lives are or how they wish they could be doing something different. I was that person for the longest time but the difference between me and most others is that I never gave up trying. I held out hope, even if it was the smallest little sliver of it, I knew that if I kept on pushing forward, I would do something incredible. Now that I have, I have no intention of stopping. I just hope that my drive can maybe inspire others (especially in Buffalo) to shrug off their weighty self-imposed worries and road blocks. Life isn't supposed to be about suffering and waiting for today to pass.
Back to me, though, for the moment. It seems that even my backup plan (teaching English in Costa Rica for a year) was to help me get fluent in Spanish so I could come back and be more marketable here in the States. I don't even know if I want that anymore. As useful as Spanish would be, it would be most useful in the States. Part of me really would like to end up in Europe one day and French would be a better choice for that. Scrapping my backup plan that I'm actually somewhat excited for due to the asshattery of the Tea Party seems a bit extreme, though. So it seems I'm left with the following options: do I focus all of my attention (again) on running away to Europe? Do I stay and fight the good fight here? Do I go on an adventure to Costa Rica for a year? It seems I'm literally back to right where I was last year before I left, meaning I have all of these potential options but I'm not sure which path to take. The difference this time, though, is that I'm not afraid to pick a path and I've got the courage to try something new. I've accomplished some major life goals. I just now need to pick some new ones. Some guidance would be appreciated right now, Universe!
PS: When I sat down to have my lunch after writing this blog, I saw this on a box of tea on the table: "If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking" ~ Buddhist Proverb. Fantastic! Now, I just need to be pointed in the right direction!