Friday, 9 May 2008

How I Got Here

I'm not done talking about our one-year anniversary. I want to talk a little bit about how I got here. About the very beginnings.

In the year 2000, I was a journalist for my college newspaper. The night of the election, they showed coverage on a big projector in the student union. I stayed up late that night drinking chai lattes and covering the election and the student's responses. When it became obvious nothing was going to be decided that night, I had to write three possible stories: the one where Gore wins, the one where Bush wins and the one where we still don't know what the hell's going on. We all know which one the paper ran the next morning. Weeks later we were all trying to get our heads around the presidential coup Bush had pulled off, and the editors were joking about running the headline "World Goes To Hell In Handbasket."

Meanwhile, I had boldly proclaimed to friends and family that if Bush won, I would move to Australia. I guess they all thought I was joking. Actually, I was one and a half years away from a Bachelor's degree, but after that I really did intend to leave the country, at least for a while. Why Australia? Well, partially it comes down to playing with the globe in my classroom in elementary school, searching for the farthest possible location from my hometown in the South Carolina low country. Partially it's because of a children's book called "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," in which a child has the sort of mundane very bad day that children sometimes do, and proclaims to his family that he's moving to Australia. (Also, they speak English in Australia, which is convenient).

Later that year I got assigned a feature story about a Russian man who worked at the registrar's office and also ran the college's chess club. He told me he left Russia not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He said he left because he could see it coming. And that just got me thinking: If that was about to happen to my country, would I see it coming? Would I have the wisdom to leave before it happened? And that notion stuck with me somehow.

Well, we all know I didn't leave the country upon graduation. I'd met Loren by then, and decided he was worth sticking around for. Years later we were sitting on the couch in our comfortable two-bedroom apartment in Berkeley, when Loren mentioned to me that Sweden had a viable political party that was Feminist. We started one of those despairing conversations about how pathetic the US is compared to other first-world nations when it comes to a lot of political and social issues. This was late 2005. The outcome of the '04 election was still fresh in our minds, not to mention the Hurricane Katrina disaster. I mentioned the fact that we didn't necessarily have to continue living in America. I'm sure I'd said it before, it was always a fact of life for me, I'd moved around so much in my childhood. But this time somehow it stuck. I told him about the Russian man I interviewed in college. He said something about not wanting to be around for the sacking of Rome. We started talking specifics about where we might want to move to and why. That conversation, that was the beginning of everything.

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