Michael & Kristina
Camping, as youngsters, at Burnt Rancheria, Laguna Mountains (San Diego County), CA, USA
It all changes so [damn] fast. That has been the parent’s lament for at least a millennium. Enjoy this moment, because they [the kids] grow up so fast. And it’s all true. It is no secret that I am enjoying the life of an expat, I am constantly preaching on the subject of personal freedom(s).
Leaving the United States, to live abroad, was (and is) absolutely the right decision for me (I know it’s not right for everyone). I won’t go into all of the details again, suffice it to say that it was the right decision at the right time (check out The Book on the top toolbar) . And continues to be so. I miss very little about the United States, and its deteriorating culture and lifestyle. I have completely embraced a new world, global perspective on life and living.
What I do miss are my kids: Shawn, Michael and Kristina. As a parent I have been blessed with three wonderful children, and three equally wonderful grandchildren: Lianne, Jaimee and Carson (Little Mikey). I sometimes think that if I had remained in the States I would have had more of an opportunity to visit and watch their growing up—but the reality is that they are all busy living their own lives. My children are all adults now, living busy and productive lives, and of course the grandchildren are rapidly growing into young adulthood (except Little Mikey, he’s the youngest).
Michael & Kristina
As young adults, enjoying a typical San Diego day, with water & sunshine
My eldest son, and Deputy Sheriff (San Diego County Sheriff’s Department) and Instructor at the San Diego Police Academy
I do miss my dogs. I’ve written about that aspect of my life many, many times on this blog. It’s hard to beat the friendship of a good dog, or better yet—dogs (plural). I leave behind a few human friends that I think of often, and with fondness, but for the most part I am very content to be living in so-called foreign lands. But the more I travel the less foreign they become, and as my world-view expands I think of myself as more of a global citizen—with less allegiance to one, and more responsibility to all.
Three of my Best Friends
Major-san (German Shepherd Dog), Sophie & Jewel (Yellow Labrador Retrievers)
and my ex-wife Barb in happier times
On more than one occasion I also miss my home in the country. My life wasn’t all bad in the States. We had a beautiful sprawling ranch house, situated on almost an acre of land. Surrounded by trees, the almost perfect weather of San Diego, and the sounds of nature, it provided the perfect environment for our kids and dogs—and for me. It all ended on a bad note, but I am now trying to come to terms with the finality of it all, and to remember the good times. And there were plenty. I am in a different phase of my life now, a simpler phase to be sure, but that doesn’t mean that the past was all bad—far from it.
My Home in the Country
Ramona (San Diego County), CA, USA
The Pool & Spa area in the backyard (the Pavilion at the upper left was my cigar smoking hangout)
It has taken some adjustment, going from a minor-somebody to a major-nobody. Abroad, no one knows my name, and they could care less about who I was. There is great freedom in anonymity. There is a certain financial and social freedom in not having to keep up (or surpass) the Jones’s, there is freedom in not having to be the corporate shark, there is freedom in just being me. A lady friend recently told me: “I just know Steve.” She never knew the big house in the country, the nice cars, the 6-figure banker’s income; she never knew the pretense that was Steve. She just knows me, the Grumpy Gringo. The Grumpy Gringo is how she refers to me (that was her first impression of me upon meeting). As apt as it may be, it has more to do with my look than with my temperament.
Some think I have lost everything, when in reality I have gained everything. No more stress, no more financial obligation, no more debt, no more conforming to social norms and expectations. I am free in every sense of the word—or as my buddy Kris Kristofferson famously said: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” So, in a very real sense, freedom is about loss. And I suppose it always has been. I don’t necessarily think this is a good thing, or a bad thing, it is just a thing-thing. I sound like Bill Clinton don’t I.
And I have my memories: My kids, my grandkids, my dogs and my beautiful home in the country. My kids and grandkids will always be with me, I can envision a dog (or dogs) in my old-age future, and I now live in beautiful (if simple) homes in many countries. Life is good. Or as the Sages say: “It sure beats the alternative.”