It Gets Complicated
“This gets complicated, this live overseas lifestyle,” my friend remarked as we sat down for lunch at the Maryland Club on Friday.
“We’ve been living abroad for the better part of two decades,” Bill continued. “Now the children are nearly all grown, and they’re choosing to settle Stateside. As I get older, I realize that what matters most to me is being near them. So we’re working now to organize a life that allows that.
“Another funny thing I’ve realized lately,” he added. “I enjoy being back here in Maryland. Of all the places in all the world where I could be, I’m comfortable here.”
I’ve had the same thoughts this long holiday weekend back home in Baltimore. I’ve lived seven years in Ireland…four in Paris…now four-and-a-half in Panama…but Baltimore is home. Lief and I have no intention of moving to Baltimore or anywhere else Stateside anytime soon, but, as my friend pointed out, as we get older, we realize a complication to this live and invest overseas lifestyle that didn’t seem important when we were younger.
Since lunch on Friday, I’ve mulled this over. On the surface, it’s a conflicting revelation. My life has evolved organically to be all about moving around the world in search of opportunity. “How did you ever get started in this?” a reporter who interviewed me last week wanted to know.
Fair question, as mine has been hardly a conventional career path. I made my first trip “overseas” when I was 18-years-old, to Bermuda for Spring Break with a friend. I didn’t leave the country again until I was 21 and took off with my college roommate for a month-long Eurail Pass tour of Europe. The more I saw of the world, the more I wanted to see. Three decades later, I still feel there’s so much I haven’t seen, so much I haven’t done. So Lief and I keep at it, ever on the trail of new opportunity.
But, back in Baltimore this week, I’m enjoying the comfort of being home, the reminders of where I come from, the people and the places most familiar.
At a conference earlier this year, an attendee approached to say she had a question. “I apologize if this is too personal,” she began, “and please don’t answer if it makes you uncomfortable. But my husband and I are wondering if you and Lief are considering giving up your U.S. citizenship.”
Yes, we’ve considered it. There might be advantages, but, when we make a list of the pros and the cons, the one con I can’t get past is purely sentimental.
We take regular beatings here at Live and Invest Overseas for being “unpatriotic,” “anti-American,” and worse. What we do has never seemed to be any of those things to me, and I continue to be surprised and even a little hurt each time a reader makes the accusation.
In the current climate in this country, it’s hard not to pay attention to politics. I try, but the United States is so polarized right now, so divided. Every comment is interpreted as liberal or conservative, anti-Republican or anti-Democrat. As I type these sentences, I know to prepare myself for the onslaught that no doubt will follow.
I’m not pro- or anti- Democrat or Republican. I’m pro-America. Better put, I’m pro the idea of America. And, no question, after nearly 15 years as an American abroad, I’m still an American. With no plans to change that status.
I wonder, though, why I can’t be an American seeking out and enjoying all the best the world has to offer? Why the idea of that seems to bother some readers.
We’ve been reporting aggressively for the past 18 months on all the coming changes to do with the FATCA legislation, the sundowning of the Bush tax cuts, and the United States’ current aggressive anti-offshore agenda. The idea of America is predicated on opportunity and the freedom to explore and exploit it. We report on the current shenanigans Stateside because we perceive them as anti-opportunity. And, to me, that’s anti-American.
Opportunity doesn’t know to stop where U.S. borders end. It springs up eternally, universally, sometimes in the least likely places. After 30 years hot on its trail, I’m not going to reinvent my approach at this stage.
But I’ll always appreciate the chance to come home.