Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

To my American friends! Hope it's been a great weekend :)

My family has always spent a lot of time in the United States and we have lived in many places there. Because of this, for many years we celebrated both Canada Day and Independence Day, no matter where we were. As I write this, much of my family is in Florida, for no apparent reason, and of course they would like me to drive there and join them, not caring how far it is. That is the mentality...there is no distance, there are no obligations, time doesn't matter. If you want to go, you go, and the more the merrier!

That got me thinking about independence, and what it really means. To my family, it has always meant either being wealthy enough not to have to work, or sufficiently impoverished to have and need very little. I have lived on both sides. I can sleep in a bus station or a mansion, but I have never been behind the White Picket Fence. To my relatives, middle class life is alien and somewhat frightening.

My travels are going to take me to Thailand to teach English, and although it seems like people just pick up and do that, it's not that simple. I have to finish my degree, take another course after that, find a decent teaching service to represent me, renew my passport, downsize my living situation, find suitable housing in Thailand, figure out what to do with the cat...once I get there, I will be there for a few months each year. All of this preparation does not feel like freedom to me. It does not allow for taking off to go anywhere, and this is strange to me, because that has always been a big part of who I am.

But the process has begun, as familiar to me as breathing. It is the time when you start looking at some of your stuff and not wanting to own it anymore. Neither remembering nor caring why you wanted it in the first place, wondering what really matters. What will I keep? What will I sell? What will I just give away? I was always taught that you don't own your possessions...your possessions own you, and I hate that feeling of being owned. You cannot be owned and be independent at the same time. That's what the Fourth of July is all about. The Declaration of Independence boils down to "We don't want to be owned". Later, the Emancipation Proclamation boils down to "Nobody wants to be owned."

I don't want to be impetuous and wind up with regrets later, so I'll start with a large storage unit and take it from there. By the time I'm done, I will have a smaller residence containing fewer things, the most powerful laptop I can find (with kickass Internet) and the cat. Some of his condos are going to have to go, too. I have all these beautiful hardcover books. I bought them because I didn't want to wait for them to come out in paperback, and there are so many of them. I could sell them for enough money to buy a Kindle. I need to adopt a more mobile mentality over the next year or so, so I guess that's what I will be doing with any spare time I have...sorting out all this stuff...and I think that once it's sorted, I will begin to feel independent again.

Nicole Kelly
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