Dear America: I think we need to break up.
There I said it.
As much I love America, in order to live my best and happiest life I need to take an indefinite break from her.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I love about America. I love her audacity, her excess, her innate belief in her superiority no matter how false and misplaced it might be. I love that you can find ten plus different varieties of ketchup and hundreds of varieties of ice cream at the supermarket though I am not sure you actually need them. I love how America and Americans insist on their continued belief in their exceptionalism regardless of clear evidence to the contrary. America is special that way, but I think I shall have to love her from afar for a bit.
If you measure a country by how it treats its poor, its ethnic minorities, and its children, American definitely doesn’t come in first on the list of best places to be or live. Especially for Black People America is just not the move, especially not right now. The current climate of division and open racism sweeping the nation seems to get worse and more endemic by the day. I have sadly come to the conclusion that to truly feel free, I must reside elsewhere.
I LOVE to travel and have always felt lighter, and most at ease while traveling outside the United States. I feel the happiest and most fulfilled when I land in a new destination and get to meet new people and see new and interesting things at my own pace solo.
Traveling has made me see that for a black woman America is not where I can be my happiest or my best self.
I am not running away from America rather I am running to my happiness, peace, and joy.
While some may think this is an emotional decision it is not. But I will admit that losing my mother and my favorite nephew within a 5-week period helped crystalize the urgency of living in the now. The importance of living with urgency and intent. But I’ve honestly been thinking about making this change since 2017 when I visited Ghana.
As I stood at the Cape Coast Castle and watched the water roll in beyond the Door of No Return, I finally understood who I was; where I come from, and that I belonged somewhere and to something. My ancestors were likely dragged thru that door to a doomed future, but I am still here. Striving and living but in America not really thriving.
While I do not plan, at this time, to relocate to the African continent (I will share more on why later), visiting the continent was the first time I thought to myself “Do I really belong in America? Might there be somewhere else where I might be happier.?”
I visited several countries where I saw happy thriving people who weren’t as stressed or worn out as I often feel. In America, I feel like a hamster on a wheel just running and running and running. Constantly working, barely able to enjoy a vacation of 2-3 weeks a year. Always worried about getting sick because I know that a major illness will land me in bankruptcy and the poor house. Paying down debts (student loans, credit cards, mortgages, and car notes) that seem like they will never ever go away. Just always engaged in the American rat race.
Despite COVID-19’s impact on international travel, there are still some countries where the American passport is not mud. Please join me as I explore my options and ultimately decide the best place for me to call home either temporarily or permanently.
One of my favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption. It is my favorite for many reasons, but one reason is that it shows the power of planning and never giving up. Andy Dufresne planned to escape that prison and he never gave up. There is an important line in that movie as well “Get busy living or get busy dying.” For the rest of my life for as long as I draw breath, I will keep busy living and I hope you will all do the same.
I know there are many others who are contemplating a sabbatical, extended work break, or permanent relocation from America. As I map my plans and execute them, I hope to bring you along and I hope you draw strength, hope, inspiration, as we take this journey together.
Here’s to us all pursuing our happiness and our goals no matter where it takes us!
Until then I remain a Bald Girl who WILL Travel!