I’ve recently become aware of a word with diametrically opposed meanings. Mexpat. While I’ve heard it in casual conversation, I was told it referred to an American living in Mexico.
However, doing some checking, I find it’s also used for a citizen of Mexico living out-of-country. Didn’t know that. There are worldwide social and educational organizations for both groups involving millions of folk who’ve switched national residences.
The word showed up on my radar when a friend recently said he and his wife were selling much of what they owned and moving to Mexico. Permanently. Now, I’ve known people who own Mexican timeshares, real estate or otherwise spend a good deal of time there. “South of the border” as it were. But, this was a “first” with someone literally taking up permanent residence.
My friend and I - in the interest of privacy I’ll call him Bob - have known each other since fourth grade. His parents and mine were friends in Bend for 50 years. Good small town American stock.
Bob got his college degree and started out as a banker. A good one. In mid-life, he went back to law school, graduated and spent the rest of his career helping low income and disadvantaged Oregonians. After retiring several years ago, he remarried, settled in small town Oregon, sang in the church choir, worked weekly in the local food bank and was very involved in his community. You couldn’t ask for more solid citizens and a happy couple.
So, when he dropped the “We’re leaving the country” bomb, it came as a shock. All I could respond with was the obvious: “Why?”
Bob offered several comments. Interesting, but not the kind of reasons anyone would use solely to undertake such a drastic move. So, I threw caution to the wind and asked “Did the outcome of last November’s election have anything to do with your decision?”
He answered “Yes” but didn’t voluntarily go much beyond that.
In our brief phone conversation, I didn’t pursue it. Maybe we’ll have a chance to talk again soon. Or, maybe I’ll “make” a chance.
So, let’s review. You know Bob is a fine man. Good education. A community contributor. Church going. Feels strongly about helping people. “Walks the talk.” The kind of person you’re proud to know and would like more of living in your community. Except, he and his equally fine wife have now left the country. Maybe for good. I’d like to think - maybe not.
So, the next question that hits you is how many thousands of others will follow? Or have already gone? And this. Why are such solid citizens leaving? How many more? Why?
Since our interim president’s election - (small “p” please, Mr. Editor) - I’ve heard a lot of folks talk of leaving. New Zealand. Australia. Canada. England. France. Usually the name of the country comes after the second drink. Which is as serious as we take the comment. We join in the conversation jokingly.
Then, friends you know - who make a difference - with a lifetime of serving and helping others - people whom you respect - actually take the step. After considerable reflection and discussion, actually leave their native land. They become Mexpats.
We’ve had a guy in the White House now for about 120 days or so. Each of those days, he and his misbegotten minions have ignorantly slashed, cut and burned their way through 250 years of history, tradition, compacts, international relations, treaties and political stability. The only certainty in that morass of mental midgetry is there will be more. More damage. More incivility. More political and economic destruction.
Sitting quietly, I note all that - and more - on one hand. Then, I think of my two friends who’ve left all they know behind to seek some transitory refuge in another country. Then, I seek to balance the two.
“What about the rest of us,” I wonder? What of us? What do we do?
Speaking only for myself, the only acceptable option is to stay. To be part of the resistance. To be a small part of working for an end to override this electoral miscarriage. To be a small part of the opposition.
Bob and I were brought up in that small Oregon town with nearly identical values in similarly comfortable surroundings. We were instilled with a sense of community and loyalty to people and to the national relationships we shared. We were granted the same familial love and respect in a time when both were taught in the home, in the school and the identical religious settings we shared.
I will not say his decision is wrong. I will not challenge nor argue the action he and his have taken. I will respect that, out of two very similar experiences, he and I have chosen different futures.
My hope is that they’ll come home again. Soon. We’ll be here.