Leaving the U.S. Forever


Tomorrow he’ll leave the United States of America for good, and I can’t think of a single reason to tell him why that’s a bad idea.

I’ve known him all my life. He’s family. Not close. But we’re related. I ever saw him all that much. But the chances are now that I’ll never see him again.

I don’t get to Thailand much.

He’s career military. Navy. Retired now. An MP. Faced down bad guys with guns everywhere from the steaming jungles of Columbia to the harbors of Indonesia.

If it’s a place on earth, he’s been there. So empty platitudes of patriotism don’t mean much to him. He’s served.

With what’s left of his GI Bill he’s going to finish his teaching degree in Thailand and teach English as a second language. Because here in the United States, there are no jobs. Not really. Not for him. In the blood lust frenzy to cut government funding these past six months and control that deficit that’s been tossed over the vulnerable and the weary like a ripped, scraggly blanket that will never keep out the cold; there have been zero job creation bills passed by the U.S. Congress. So there are no jobs. Especially if you’re over 50. And being a veteran doesn’t really make a difference in daily living. A parade and a politician’s speech do not pay a mortgage. Nor does the tiny stipend he gets.

Private industry? The world does not need too many more “Security Consultants.” Especially ones who are weary of the guns and the death. There is no job for him here.

So he’s leaving.

A lot of us talk about leaving. “If this person wins the election, if they yank away collective bargaining, if corporate profits get any higher, if I can’t afford to go to the doctor—there are millions of solid, individual good reasons to leave. Lots of us talk about it.

He’s doing it.

It’s been four years now since he scattered his Mom’s ashes off the windy, sun struck coast of San Diego. Her Irish heritage taken by the wind. And his Irish, American Indian Dad, his crinkly smiling eyes and movie star good looks has been gone for years. Finally, his brother. His brother battled hard through seven years with the cancer. But then his time came too.

There is a woman in Thailand. There has never been a shortage of women in his life. This one is a farmer. But she’s not the reason he’s leaving. He’s learned too much to make her the reason. They will live on the ocean. Live on almost nothing. Because that’s all they need.

There is a daughter. A sparkling, smiling young lady of intelligence brought up by her mother in Europe and now almost ready to go out on her own. Maybe some day she’ll come see the relatives she has in Chicago. Maybe she’ll go see her Dad in Thailand some day.

So he’s leaving. He’s thought it through hard.

And for the life of me, I can’t come up with one good reason why he’s wrong.

So I am left with an even larger, weary sadness. Of just what that means.

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