The US Election Results and a Dusty Town in Cambodia

This is the second blog post I've written about the election results.

The first was really angry, and I opted to leave it as a draft.

The morning of the election, we woke up at 4 a.m. for early morning flights from Krabi, Thailand, to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  We're 12 hours ahead of the east coast, so as soon as our alarms went off, we were up checking the election results as they rolled in.  During our two-hour layover in the Bangkok airport, we hopped onto the free wifi to check results again.  When we boarded our second plane, Five Thirty Eight was still predicting a Hillary win at 85%.  We rested easy on our flight.

Then we landed, and everything changed.

Like so many of our friends and family members, we were completely shocked by the results.  How did the tide change so frequently?  Suddenly Florida was decided, and the election was handed to a man that seems to embody everything I dislike about our country.

We were exhausted and hungry, so we ventured out into the hot, humid afternoon and walked dusty roads to a cafe nearby.  We sat in silence and ate $2 rice dishes.

I felt sad and confused and really, really far from home.  It felt like something big and scary was happening to my people, and I was too far away to do anything about it.  

Over the next few days, we had some serious discussions about living in Canada.  I recognize that people get really upset and offended when they hear people "threaten" to "abandon ship" and move to another country, but it occurred to us that we don't have jobs or homes in the U.S.  Aside from our families and our dog, there is very little tying us there.

Nate and I have processed this year abroad differently.  

While seeing poverty and corruption in so many other parts of the world has made him more grateful to be an American, I've tended to take a more negative approach.  

I see the work/life balance of friends in Barcelona and wonder if our obsession with careers and status is making us any happier.  I see our friends in Cape Town raising kids that know more bird species than TV characters because they spend so much time outside and in nature.  I see people in Italy drinking (and enjoying) good red wine in moderation, and the college students there not dying of alcohol poisoning after binge drinking.  I see families throughout South America living with less but spending more time together as a family.  I see people in Thailand and Cambodia eating fresh fruits and vegetables because their food culture hasn't (yet) been wrecked by the processed food movement and big corporations like Monsanto.  

I've written before about how long-term travel can leave you feeling adrift- less connected to your home country but not yet at home anywhere else.  

Even before the election, I did not believe that the U.S. the best and only good place to live.

This wasn't the first time on the trip that we'd discussed our options for living somewhere outside the U.S.  But again, like those previous conversations, we decided we're still planning to return home, because that's what it is.  It's our home.

America may be imperfect, but I still choose to believe that education, non-racist/misogynist/xenophobic people made the choice they thought was the best one, and I'm trying to understand what could lead them to do that when it seems so detrimental to so many others.

So Nate and I are now talking more about how we can be more involved moving forward, not just in the next election but on a local level before then.  How can we volunteer more and be more active in our local communities to stand up for the things we believe in.  At this point, it feels like the only thing we can do.  

As for the pit in my stomach that I feel every time I think about re-entering the U.S., I'm just hoping it will subside by the time we're set to fly back.