It’d been 15 weeks in the “Land of the Free” for my Mexican Monster. Fifteen weeks was more than enough time to understand how good we had it back in Baja. Three weeks would have sufficed. As those days slowly ticked by I watched my husband whither and close down. “I feel like I’m keeping a wild animal behind bars,” I told him. He chortled in agreement.
Not that it was terrible. Dinners with family and friends, funny times at work, and the occasional bike ride or stroll through the park all made for sweet moments. Aside from these, though, our cycle was work, sleep, shop; work sleep, shop.
Two weeks into this cycle and I realized: the only things I actually enjoy about the United States of America are the diversity of food options, the vast tracks of wilderness, and online shopping.
Only one of those fills my soul and it doesn’t exist in Ohio.
In Mexico we hardly buy anything. There’s no void to fill. It’s taken up by the Sierra Mountains, the open Pacific, natural hot springs, community gatherings, simple moments with friends, farmer’s markets, and fresh fish delivered to our door. There is also not the endless array of fascinating, shiny toys with which to divert oneself. Our options are few, but our needs are simple.
One foot in America and consumer craving wraps its tentacles around the mind. Suddenly, we need everything! And on the occasions we don’t need it we’d better buy it anyway simply because it’s cheap and available.
Noel and I looked around: at cart pushers in the aisles of Meier’s and Target, at the hundreds of others that worked, like us, in restaurants, at the late night drunks of Mainstrasse. But mostly we looked at ourselves.
Land of the Free?? I’ve never seen anyone work so hard for such little happiness. Self included.
Eat, shit, work, sleep. Repeat. The really fucked up part is that I couldn’t cut the cycle. Turns out I’m not so evolved that I can escape the consumer mindset whilst living in the midst of it.
It was a drug, and I’d forgotten just how powerful it could be. I doubt we’d spent any more than the average American, and we certainly did some major bargain shopping, but when you go to the US with the intention of saving up for the winter back home, you never remember the call of consumerism – you never factor in to your finances all the amazing opportunities you have to spend your hard-earned cash.
October 23rd and it was finally time to go. It only took the better part of a day to squeeze it all into (and on top of) our little SUV. Is this what it was all for? Is this why we came to the United States? To buy all those things we got along just fine without back home?
I thought of all those people who’d never left the USA – who’d never lived out of a bag and never realized how little they actually need.
If it’s this hard for me to break free from the work-consume cycle on a three-month visit – a person who has grown to enjoy living like a pauper – how difficult must it be for those who have scarcely imagined such freedom?