Posts tagged America
Escaping The American Dream
 

May 2, 2014

10:00 am European Time

Paris, France

 

Butterflies tumbled over each other in her stomach, racing to get out of the plane as it landed, unsure of what to expect but anxious to arrive nevertheless. All the sounds hit her at once, swirling streams of French flowing about her head like a swarm of gnats, dodging smells of croissants, sweat and coffee, each new sensation swallowing her whole, and suddenly she felt like she was drowning or floating, she couldn’t tell which. Bumping into and off of travelers like one in a thousand inside a pinball machine, the weight of her backpack controlling her movements, swaying her into and away from those she passed. Heart racing and hands sweating, she raced to the closest bathroom, dropped her bag and sat on the covered toilet. Head in hands and two deep breaths, she let herself accept what she had just done. She had left. Escaped. She was alone. This was happening. A woman knocked on the bathroom door but she didn’t answer, she just let the stranger keep fumbling with the locked door. One more moment of peace before she entered the chaos and the unknown. Breathe. 1,2,3 … she was gone.

There are a thousand moments in life whizzing by you, missed opportunities, mistakes, chances … they fly past you at the speed of light like a galaxy of unrecognized stars, blurring into background noise. One can grasp them, take hold and take flight, or ignore them all together. Some are monumental and some insignificant, but moments all the same, choices to be taken or passed up. But some moments change the course of a life. Some stars, previously seeming so far from reach, are only caught with a massive leap, without knowing for certain if you’ll catch them at all, and even if you do, whether you’ll be able to hold on through the ride. Those are the chances that most of the world passes by, the stars too fast, too bright, too high and too far to grab hold of. Most of the people stop recognizing them all together. But those are the stars that can change everything. And this was one of those moments.

Something happened with mankind between the time civilians built pyramids and towers to reach the gods in the sky, and the place where they unknowingly put a ceiling in that sky, masked as the “American Dream,” a way to reach the top. Somewhere between 5 and 10 years old, I realized that the “you can be anyone or anything you want to be,” motto of our culture was a scam. What they really meant was, be anything you want to be within this box that we have defined as America, reach for the stars, but wait … no, not that star … these stars, down here. Follow the sequence, fall in line, be a productive member of society, but dream big.

And by 10 years old, the facade began to crumble already, and my tiny prepubescent brain found the first holes in this lie that I had been told. By 17, the amount of reachable stars became even smaller, and by 21, they were borderline chosen for you. Here are 5 stars you can ride; here are the steps to get there. An artist? That’s interesting, but what’s your real job? How are you advancing? How will you reach the top. Art could never get you the American Dream. An actress, a musician, a writer … they got you a pat on the head and a sympathetic, patronizing smile - that’s a nice hobby, keep it up, but don’t quit your day job.

It was early on that I felt jipped, betrayed and lied to by all those encouraging adults and parents who had raised me. How dare they tell me to dream big and then box me into confines once I did? This is not what I was promised. This was not freedom. This was not the land of the free that I had been taught, where possibilities were endless. It was a billion tiny ants racing and climbing atop and smothering one another up the mountain to reach the peak first. Each of them knew there wasn’t enough room there on top for all of us. But if you “dreamt big” and “worked hard” and “played by the rules,” maybe you’d be one of the lucky few who surpassed the rest. This, is by no means, any dream at all.

I have a hard time believing our forefathers foresaw this when empty land and unchartered possibilities were vast. But there was no more room for everyone to profit, no more room for artists and dreamers who sought beyond what was put in front of them. Money. Money got you the American Dream. And what sort of dream was it anyhow? Get good grades in school, do extracurricular activities not for the joy of them, but for what they will get you in the next stage, get into an elite college, make connections, score a coveted internship, go to graduate school, get your masters, get in with a good company, hospital or firm, marry the person who comes at that precise stage where society has told you that you should be married, but make sure you’ve accomplished the aforementioned tasks beforehand, God forbid you don’t have a secure career and a comfy nest egg before you bring life into this world. Plan out the lives that you will bring in and how many according to your income, abort the lives that do not coincide with this plan or may cause it to fail. Throw yourself into your job until you’ve reached the top, and then climb higher. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy what you're doing - you’ll have time to enjoy life later- when your money and your children have grown. Retire comfortably and then seek out your heart’s desires. At this point, the sky is the limit- whatever your 70 year old bones could want. Look back on your life and know that you’ve have done well.

Something about the whole script just didn’t sit well with me. It never had but I couldn’t figure out why I seemed to be the only one who realized this flaw, this grotesque injustice, the only one who felt betrayed and lied to - told to dream as big and far as I could fathom, and then told to reign it back in with a pitying and condescending smile. And as much as I tried at times to mainstream myself into accepting it, into following the steps I was meant to take, achieve the milestones at the precise times laid out for me, tick off the boxes, complete the checklist, I just couldn’t accept that this was the “Dream,” that this is what people fled from countries across the sea to obtain. It wasn’t a dream, it was a paint-by-number staircase with footprints to follow. It wasn’t big, or bold; it wasn’t limitless or life-giving. It was calculated, planned, all lined up for you. A “How-To-Guide” to life, an all-you-can-eat buffet with 3 options, a beautiful brochure with fine print. You can have anything you want. You can do anything, be anyone. The sky is the limit. Your life is yours to create (*Please see fine print for details: You're choices range from A-Z but please choose one of the following options- A, B, or C. We are currently out of stock on D-Z.)

Now, wait a second … this is not what I signed up for. This is not what I was promised. Why didn’t anyone read me the fine print when I was 5 years old on Daddy’s knee listening to him tell me to be all that I could be. I felt crazy, like the only one who had found the holes in this blueprint. Everyone else went along, filing in two by two, ready to take the next step. And that's when I knew. I had to go. At 25, the only thing I was entirely sure of in my small life was that I would regret it forever if I did not at least find out. And the only thing I feared more than leaving itself, was never leaving at all. 

 
Dear. God. America.
 
Original Sketch by: Kris Thomas @agypsybreeze some many years ago

Original Sketch by: Kris Thomas @agypsybreeze some many years ago

August 2, 2015

Maryland, USA

The Darkest Hours of Night

Home Is Where the Heart Is?

There is something ineffably ugly that creeps up inside me now. A sinking sort of desperation to fight above a surface that is fading out of sight. I can no more explain it as I can categorize the feeling into a single compartment.

To avoid sounding like a complete traveling brat, I refuse telling others that they couldn't understand and keep the world knowledge I’ve gained over the past year to a three word minimum when called upon - “It was amazing” - “You have no idea” - “I don’t have an answer to that” ... which usually follows asinine questions such as “What’s the best place to go/ the most intense place" (seriously … what does that even mean?)/ "How did you do that by yourself" to "But what about the sex slave trade? Haven't you ever seen 'Taken'?” Please stop. You're an embarassment to yourself and your nationality. ( I'm talking to you, America.)

But in all seriousness, after leaving my job and home 14 months ago to follow my dream of traveling the world, embracing as many of this beautiful earth’s cultures, foods, and wines, and writing along the way …. coming back to America is more than just a *culture shock.* If I were to embrace hyperbolics (which, lets be serious, I always am) it's a depressive induced panic attack. And I spend every day plotting ways to get deported from my own country.

With 3/4 of a book written, a 6 month journey turned into 13, and bank account fumes, I landed at JFK for what I promised myself “a brief visit" on June 13th. Though I had no set plans of where and when I would get out again, I felt confident that I would. I started without a plan and I would continue with what scrape of one I had accumulated.

Now I sit outside on my parent’s deck at 4:48am with an ice pack strapped to one eye with a rubber band like an inept pirate patch to numb down the tears and swelling before work tomorrow. Seven weeks home and it’s now all finally leaked out.

Let me be perfectly clear - I am so beyond happy and grateful for this past year’s experiences. I am grateful to everyone who supported me and grateful to myself for pushing beyond my comfort zone and following my heart. That is a decision I couldn’t regret in a thousand life times. But still, America calls and landing doesn’t come without the responsibility of working within this corporate world; I have to pay off those debts somehow.

Waitressing and Bartending are a routine that I’ve done ever since I was 18. Like riding a bike, right? Yes, exactly like riding a bike. Riding the same red, white and blue slave ship of a bike the rest of our country is and suddenly, I’m scraping at every circumstance and memory and horror I’ve experienced over the past 13 months abroad to keep me sane, to remind me it wasn’t a dream, that I really did escape this. (How the fuck am I back in it?)

“It’s a means to an end,” “You’ve experienced so much worse; this is nothing,” "You are strong. You are brave. You are an adventurer," "This is just one more brief expedition," are mantras I repeat to myself on a daily basis as I serve the city’s finest steaks and wines to guests. And it’s not bad. It’s really not. But I can’t find the heart or the soul to live in it. I can’t find a way to care, to assimilate, to be one of *them.*

It’s not the place, it’s the ideology of our country that I can’t get behind. The entitled and the slaves to the world, working so that they can keep working. It’s even more stupid to me now than it was before I left. My mind drifts to afternoons alone in the South of France writing or painting by the sea or horseback riding in the country side, anonymous and blissfully at peace doing what I love. The memory single handedly gets me through the day while simultaneously handicapping me.

As for the future, I’ll have to play this game for awhile until I can find another way out. And trust me, I will find one. That I’m sure of.

In the mean time, let me re live the past *unwritten* 7 months with you on here.... Enjoy. 

 
A Letter: The Bitter Truth
 
"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."  - Steve Jobs

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

- Steve Jobs

... A raw, honest, and unpoetic status between then and now ...

 

My Dear Readers,

Yes, I am still alive. I know it's been awhile since you've heard from me (I admit this behind the monkey emoji covering his eyes) and I am so sorry about that. So much has happened since I last posted - good and bad. I have hundreds of new stories for you all, and have been compiling and hoarding them all for myself (evil laugh.) Kidding! I have been saving them all for the book I have been working on for the past year (slowly but surely), finding it hard to determine which stories I should release and which I should hold back, saving them for the adventure compilation. However, it's been too long and due to popular demand, I have decided to release small teasers / excerpts from what I am working on for you all to wet your appetite until the final product comes to fruition.

First, a quick update for those who don't know me well and haven't heard from me since my last post when I was in Budapest during the winter of 2015. The following 5 months were unlike any of the previous ones. If I didn't have a plan before, I had less of one then, making my way to different homes and exchanging work for accomodation and food (no, not prostitution, you filths.) I was completely broke and determined to keep traveling until I was running on fumes.

I ended up returning home to the States June 13th, 2015 - sunburnt and bleached blonde with libraries of tales and negative $7000 to my name -  and I've been here since. Because you have been so loyal and amazing to me, I feel that I owe you the truth, though I hate to admit it some of it. Adjusting to life back at home was a devestating and crushing reality shock to say the least. To distract myself and due to necessity, I got a job right a way to pay off the unsurmountable mounds of credit card travel debt and each month in, I sank further and further into the black hole, losing vision of what was once so completely in my grasp and all the peace, hope and assurance I had found on my trip. I no longer wrote (in fact, it took me 5 months to start writing again and pick up where I left off on my book); days and nights blended together between work and sleep as I numbly tried to pass each one fervently and quickly until I had enough money to leave again, piling up dates on a calendar like cinder blocks from rubble. (The next post will be a dark one from this mentioned time - be forewarned.)

It has been an uphill climb and I am still hiking, but today, I am more determined to finish my book than ever before, and to not leave you hanging in the balance meanwhile. I am re-committing myself to engaging your imaginations through glimpses into the adventures I had that you never got to see, and promising you my honesty even when it isn't pretty. I hope that you enjoy these little blurps as much as you did their predecessors and that one in seven may spark a desire in you, inspiring you to go after the world in its entirety.

Keep in mind that the following posts will be excerpts from the book and therefore leave you hanging, purposefully.  Please feel free to comment and give feedback. I love to hear what you all think / want. Any recommendations for posts or answers to travel questions or advice you desire is always welcome. 

I am truly grateful and blessed beyond words for all of your support, encouragement and patience over the past two years. It means more to me than you could ever know. You are what keeps my dreams alive <3 

 

All my Love,

Your Gypsy Breeze 

 

P.S. A Gypsy Breeze Pt III is already set and just around the corner. A new adventure awaits and I couldn't be more excited to embark again, taking you all with me!