J’aime Paris, mes amis. That said, now I can go about trashing a whiny American ex-pat who writes, in the WaPo, of her trials and tribulations living in Paris. It’s all about the Euro, of course. Now at about $1.60 per; about double of where it was when it was introduced.
I’ve felt the author’s Europain. In Ireland recently, it set me back almost eight bucks U.S. for a pint in a pub in Dublin. Ouch. Enough to make a man stay sober. But, getting back to the ex-pat, she is both whiny and defensive:
I can imagine what you’re thinking, reading this. Almost all we Americans living over here are struck by the lack of sympathy we get from people back home, beginning with Congress, which builds in subtle forms of punishment for the fun of living the European life…
When Americans back home discuss expatriates, I always seem to detect a note of unexpressed malice, which suggests that, at some level, some people in the States seem to feel that those living in France or Italy or England (but not in, say, Poland) are getting away with something, and if they have to pay a premium for their self-indulgence, tant pis, too bad for them. The attitude seems to be: We have to live here, why should you get out of it?
No, sweetheart. It is not “unexpressed malice.” It is expressed herein, and I trust will be understood. And, finally, no, I don’t have to live here in America. I choose to.
There are times when I’d much rather live in Ireland or Scotland or even parts of England. But I know what it takes to even get a cable tv permit in the U.K. (it ain’t pretty; you think Comcast is evil? Ain’t seen nothin’ yet, mate…), and everyday life is frought with challenges for those of us unused to them. Like needing to find a carpark that’s only four blocks from your flat in a major city, as against the underground garages most apartment dwellers in big cities take for granted here.
The list is long, and doesn’t become apparent until you actually live abroad, or travel and stay with those who do. “Living on the economy,” as opposed to base housing, may sound liberating. Trust me, it’s the pits. And most of the men I’ve known who tried it, came back as soon as space became available. There’s no uncle like our Uncle Sam when you’re not a wealthy ex-pat author.
Coming around finally making my point in the strongest possible of terms: living in America is better, and easier, and cheaper, than life almost any other place. As for Paris, I’ve spent a good deal of time in Paris working with the MOD (good people; and don’t ever mess with French security services). But I find it to be too civilized, and, yet, contra the author of the WaPo puff piece, uncivilized.
When she writes of “safer streets and wonderful trains” it’s apparent she’s not been on some of the SCNF and Metro lines that go to, from, and through some of the banlieues. Those “youths” whose pastime is burning cars in the Paris ‘burbs. There’s crime a-plenty in a large city like Paris. Living in Paris seems to me, cost-wise, like living in Manhattan. Great if you can afford to live in the tonier sections. And crime and grime become invisible if you set down near the Luxembourg Gardens.
But, for those of us not so well blessed with money, life is better by far in America. Where we can find a good, safe, and comfortable life almost everywhere. Can’t afford Manhattan? Move to New Jersey. Can’t afford the rabid taxation of the Garden State? Move to Delaware. There are always choices.
And, best of all, you don’t have to learn a new language. Or spend a week’s wages to get a meal at a mediocre restaurant.