I hate it when I don’t take my own advice. I suggest to readers of my book that they do not discuss their choice to homeschool with antagonistic people. That includes people previously known (family!) to be antagonistic or just generally likely to be (strangers) when we consider most people aren’t comfortable with the idea. Okay, I haven’t really gone against my advice, but I need to add another subject to my list of things I won’t discuss with nearly anyone: my choice to live abroad.
I have come to loathe this topic. Last week, while my kids tooled around on motorized toy cars for 10 dirhams a brief session, I had a chat with a mom and dad who currently reside in North America, where neither born. They visit Morocco every other summer to see the woman’s family and, you know, give the child a taste of his history too. The husband is from a war-torn country, so it’s unlikely that they will visit his homeland anytime soon, though we didn’t got around to discussing it. The whole of the conversation was why I moved to Morocco, maybe more so why I stay. I am home. I continue to choose Morocco, just as they continue to choose Canada.
“But it’s hard here.”
Sure. It’s hard everywhere, we have to pick and choose. It’s economically hard in Morocco, they say. Yes, of course, but it has long been economically hard for me and millions of others in the US as well. I’m going to start assuming that most people don’t know that. I need to remain steadfast to the fact that many/most people, American or not, do not understand that there are millions of people living in poverty in the US. My going home would in no way secure me a position financially above them.
“But it’s hard here.”
Yeah, there’s culture stuff here that I, as a humanitarian, do not like. And probably more so that I could simply never understand. That’s actually the same for the US. Be it the sexism, treatment of children or international policies, there is loads about American culture and politics that is hard for me to swallow. Living abroad affords me a new mirror to hold up to myself. In my current reflection I have my US culture behind me that I can ponder in a new light illuminated from this different culture in front of me which helps me to see things with a different perspective than I would have if I stayed home. Living abroad can help one have a much more rounded view of life, which I find a complicated and confusing thing. In this sense, I hear that returning home (repatriating) can be quite horrible – so many ill things have remained the same while personal evolutions have greatly sifted.
The standard assumption I get about why I live here, is always immediately seen as an answer to their own question is: “…because your husband is from Morocco?”
Yes, I moved to Morocco because my husband was from here. Do/did you consider that someday you may have to move to the birthplace of your spouse because your family will have assorted ties there? Is their origin of birth a deal breaker for you in that regard? How does it work for you if your potential spouse is from a developing nation or one facing uncertain political upheaval? Did you discuss these things? I did. Shoot, I wrote a 10k word research paper on it!
As a twenty-something year old fine art student from San Francisco discussing marriage with a man from Morocco, yes, the idea of someday living in Morocco had a lot of appeal to me. I didn’t even appreciate the writing of the Beatniks (a bunch of old white dudes!) but I appreciated that there was a warmth and vibe in Morocco that inspired many of them as well as many well-loved recording artists, a handful of famous painters and eventually I would see the layers upon layers of influence Morocco has had on non-Moroccan fashion and design (whoops, more old white dudes plus Hendrix). This place is gorgeous. My time living in a rural village in the High Atlas Mountains often felt like living in an artists’ colony, surrounded by women working on their craft at various stages. Now having visited Safi and Zagora I have seen other similar colonies. And that’s nothing to say of all the urban and public art Moroccans create. I have also said, and very much feel, that as a former black and white photographer and filmmaker, Morocco is where I came to love color.
I have heaps of other justifications for living exactly where I do, but sticking to my own advice I will reserve spending my energy on this topic, instead I will expend it on myself, my (half Moroccan) children, my neighbors, and my art. Next time, I tell myself, I will employ one of my canned responses, crafted to kill a conversation I don’t want to have. Or I can direct all queries here.