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What Version of America Awaits Me?

I will be returning to the United States of America in less than two months! Having to renew my visa this way is definitely a pain, and expensive, but I’m looking forward to coming home for a visit. I’ve been wondering lately, exactly what awaits me. Although I live on the other side of the earth, I still have access to Facebook, YouTube, and see all the craziness going on these days.

Although I only left the States three years ago, it almost seems as though I’ll be coming home to a different country. The social media hatred and nastiness was only beginning to show itself when I departed in July 2016. Since then, President Trump was elected, the country immediately split into sides like a kickball game at recess, and rational public discourse went out the window. I don’t mean to say it’s all the president’s fault. Schumer, Pelosi and their supporters are equally responsible.

One of the things I enjoy most about living in Thailand is I don’t have to be exposed to all the ugliness associated with politics and extreme political correctness. Seeing the situation from abroad, and I doubt it’ll be much different close-up, it seems every decision is based on spite and trying to one-up the opposite side. There’s absolutely no flexibility or room for negotiation, and I wonder how any organized group, much less a government can operate this way. Even being in a small group, like a five-piece rock band, or a school yearbook staff requires a little give and take. I don’t ever remember this level of intolerance between everyday people. People who work together or have been friends for years, delete each other from social media accounts, and sometimes lives, just because of their political opinions. People are openly hostile to one another on both sides, feeling perfectly comfortable berating total strangers (or friends) for even a slight demonstration of his, her or its beliefs. I don’t get it.

I hope when I come home most of this behavior is restricted to the Internet, protests, and rallies; and doesn’t seep out into the “real world.” To be honest, I’m not sure what to expect.

What I am looking forward to is enjoying a real steak, or maybe some Texas barbecue. It’ll actually be fun to walk into a Wal-Mart or Target, just to see the huge selection of products most Americans take for granted. It’ll be nice to pick up a few articles of clothing from a regular store, instead of having to go to a special store for non-Thai-sized people. I must admit, when I’m in Los Angeles, I would like to have a look at a cannabis dispensary. I doubt if I’ll buy anything, but when I left, recreational marijuana was still illegal in California and it’s a curiosity to me. I look forward to driving on the right side of the road again, on huge, well-maintained roads. It’ll be nice to easily communicate with folks during everyday interactions, without having to figure out how to simplify the language, or remember what Thai word fits the situation. I won’t have the time to visit many of the friends and family I wish I could, but I’m excited to see the few I will see. These are the simple things I’m excited about.

I’ll be visiting Texas and California, so I’ll be exposed to both extremes of political follies. I guess when it comes down to it, I’m not so sure the United States I left three years ago is the same United States to which I’ll be returning. If not, it won’t be long until I’m back on that 30-hour flight to the other side of the world, where I can watch the insanity from a safe distance again!