It had been 15 months. I was a bit apprehensive…
Lovely piece.. i admire your ability to remain politically neutral! I would have ended up in fisticuffs lol
This is a beautiful article, and encompasses much of what I am thinking about life now in the US. Thank you for writing it.
Carol, this is an articulate & sensitively- written post. The comments really added to the conversation as well. Thank you for your bravery sharing your intimate thoughts with all of us. As my husband and I ponder a move to Portugal-- your insights and experiences are invaluable.
I suspect if you had been in another part of the country, you would have heard more about the war in Ukraine and maybe more interesting "bar talk." As you know, Florida is a stronghold for a different form of conservatism. As for your friends and family who failed to inquire after your international experiences, perhaps they were disappointed in the choice you made to leave them. I know I have feelings of abandonment because of my friends who have relocated abroad. There is simply no way to explain to them that, while I am happy that they have found a new life elsewhere, there is a hole in my heart knowing we will never be together again as in the past. One of us will always live in exile. Thanks for your observations.
I appreciated your insights into the emotional responses you experienced during your visit. And your comparisons of the two cultures. Regarding your siblings lack of interest in your life in Portugal, I can relate. I'm originally from a small farm town in Indiana but spent much of my adult life in DC working in broadcasting and advertising. On visits to my Indiana family, I was always amazed at their complete lack of interest in all aspects of my life. Maybe this lack of interest in "those who left" from "those who stayed" is commonplace.
First and foremost, you're a good kid and your neighbors are lucky to have you.
I wouldn't have handled the waiter as well due to low threshold on ignorance and you reached the only conclusion possible on what home is. Kudos!
Loved this post. I have an aging mother (93) back in the UK. I have 3 children all in middle age. 1 in New Jersey, 1 in Singaporean the other in the UK (but with itchy feet). Once mum has passed, my already sporadic visits to the UK will end. It's weird, but apart from brief nostalgia when watching films, I really don't miss my country of birth. Bosnia is not on the tip of anyone's lip when it comes to thinking of places to live, but for me it's more than enough. Your post really resonated. Lots that I identified with. Glad that you are "back home," 😉
I always enjoy your posts on Portugal as we will be doing a scouting trip in May, as I've learned alot from your experiences.
I've lived in many states across the US and each one is unique in its own way, so don't let states like FL and AZ paint an opinion on the entire country (as those are very unique states due to its population makeup).
I've lived in the Tampa region in the past and know Sarasota very well. In fact, we were just there over the holiday season visiting family and enjoying the area. It was much more crowded this visit versus our prior trip in April due holiday travelers and to what is referred to as snowbirds (those that live in FL during the winter but head back north in the late spring) but agree on most points with suburbia living there.
Family is always funny about moving and leaving the area where they all live. When you mentioned that family never asked about life in Portugal, it was a similar reaction even when we moved within the states, so I don't believe its a Portugal thing. I believe people look at those who move away as we are snubbing our noses at both them and the town they love. I'm used to it over my life of relocating, that I no longer care...Just be happy and let them do the same.
I'm sure you were excited to share and were disappointed in the lack of interest. I'd bet there is some unspoken bitterness about you not being there for your Dad, as we do harbor guilt in these situations as we have been there as well. Life is short and you cannot please everyone all the time, so live with no regrets.
your essay made me realize i had not been back to new york for many of the same reasons you articulated about returning to the states. when i moved to la over 45 years ago, it provided the solace and excitement (in equal doses). no more solace or excitement here. we have started packing up our life and are still 'doing the math', but do realize, firmly, that no matter what, we are ready to move on, wherever that might be. in portugal or beyond. best, bonnie and michael
Thank you so much, Carol! Resonated with my thoughts about my retiring in Portugal. I keep smiling about "fluff". So true. I call it superficial thinking. Younger generation very much money-oriented, less reading, less analyzing, less compassion, rush rush rush. ..... Though, I was born in USSR , I don't plan to retire in the country where I'm not longer feel at home. I just love Portugal with it's simplicity of life, welcoming people and wonders of nature.
Well said on all fronts. Something got in my eye when you talked about leaving your dad...Both of my parents are 86 and have led a life full of travel and adventure and instilled that in me. I know that it will be sad to leave them, but they too will be so happy for us. They already talk about it. We experience many friends telling us that this will be a fun little adventure but they also think we will be back. And we might. We might not. All the reasons you listed above for what you have found to set Portugal apart are exactly the reasons that are driving us there to experience it. We found out at Christmas that we will be grandparents for the first time and many asked us if we still planned to go. Somehow the feeling is that we should put our dreams on hold to be here and involved in our grandchild's life. I won't belabor all the reasons that line of thought exhausts me, but we are still going to Portugal. We truly hope and dream that they come to visit us and we will help them with that expense should they need it. I look forward to reading each of your posts. Muito obrigado.
Enjoyed the article, Carol. Thank you for being comprehensive and open about your 1st experience visiting the US after a long time. I am sure we will experience most, if not all of your observations when we visit California this June. We definitely enjoy our new home country, Portugal, for the exact reasons, you did not mention to the server at your dad's favorite restaurant. Our frame of reference in Portugal allow us to make an objective comparison with our former home country, the US.
Thank you, Carol. Your post touched me in many ways. My husband and I will be making our move to Portugal in September for so many, if not all the reasons why you love living there. We plan to move to Porto and begin a new life where we feel more in tune with our heart’s desire.
Carol, I enjoyed reading about your observations and the comments it prompted. I live in Canada, which is more similar to the US than is Portugal. Nonetheless, many of the themes you mention hold here as well.
Much of the disinterest in the lives of Americans living abroad arises, in my opinion, from the ubiquitous American belief in its own exceptionalism. My family members could accept the fact that I went abroad for a job for a couple of years, but they had real difficulty with my staying abroad. After all, why wouldn't someone return to the best country in the world? I've elaborate at bit on this point in an older post: https://expatlessons.substack.com/p/suspicious-minds-888483.
Thanks again for your observations.
I have wondered how I will feel...though I suspected many of the ones you listed, I had never thought of the others. Thank you for sharing this post. You are able to speak the truth without being offensive ... I need to learn how to do that.
Thank you for your insightful post (especially as some topics can be inciteful). So many considerations to process for all of us making our (right) life choices. Again, thank you.