Saturday, November 13, 2010

Daily Report: The Other Option

I spent the day today pondering the possibility of staying here in America... bringing Epril here.

I rode today down a quiet palm-lined boulevard in fantastic weather, past acres and acres of manicured lawns, beautiful neighborhoods, pristine stores with parking lots shaded by oaks and bordered by purple bougainvillea bushes. It's really the very apotheosis of tropical splendor and modern convenience I personally hoped to find when I moved to Asia... and would have preferred once I got there.

The cost? I can now state that it is true that, other than housing, living in Florida isn't that much more expensive than a place like Pattaya Beach (again, for me... I don't know about you). Owning a car here is certainly much less... home supplies... gasoline... electronics... the list goes on. The food I eat is cheaper here. I don't buy much clothes, but the clothes I have bought cost about the same or less. Things related to entertainment and relaxation are a little more expensive, but we went out to eat tonight and the fish and chips we had were about the same as I would pay at a restaurant in Asia. Obviously, there aren't too many $2 meals here like you can find with street vendors in Asia, but you can still get a reasonable bite to eat for not much more.

The social scene? Everyone here is friendly, just like in Asia. But I would admit that social aspects represent the second biggest difference: There aren't as many opportunities to socialize here, especially with people my age, and Floridians aren't as colorful as expatriates, and the social activities aren't as amusing, but the opportunities to socialize still exist and are actually easier to start and maintain than I find with expatriates or Filipino people. But, it has been years since I was a partier, and you would have to agree that sitting around the pool with a bunch of guys drinking beer and talking politics is pretty much the same whether you're here or there.

The culture? The country? Obviously that's the biggest difference. But, you can't just say "it's different" without enumerating those differences... both good and bad. There are a lot of nice things about the Philippines as a country; but there are also a lot of problems there: a vast number of things that are annoying, distracting, or merely tolerable... things you "just have to get used to", as they say euphemistically. The West coast of Florida may be one of the culturally emptiest places on earth, but everything works, the frustrations are few, everyone is healthy and wealthy and educated, and opportunity (though currently strained) exists for all. You may look at pictures I took in The Philippines and see a bamboo hut and think "wow, how exotic", but maybe you fail to think that it really is also a bamboo hut where some person lives their life... survives... and little else. You may see the photos of motorellas, carts, and motorcycles on some street and think, "wow, how rustic", but also you might fail to think that that street is also smoky, noisy, poorly maintained, and devoid of traffic laws or people in possession of licenses, driving skills, or a natural fear of death.

What is really causing me to think like this, however, is my wife. Although she doesn't mention it (much), I know that her biggest dream is to live in America. She follows my lead in all things and has adjusted her goals and efforts toward a life in The Philippines, as I wanted... but I know she would rather be here.

I know she wants to work in a store selling clothes — a simple wish. (If she came here and did that, she would almost earn as much as I am earning currently.) Our lives are one now, and her wishes matter as much as mine (if not more, in my opinion) as does her future, her life, and her happiness.

Finally, I'm really not a risk taker... or at least not anymore, insofar as I used to be. Going back to The Philippines now would be a risk... unless some truly certain option were to present itself suddenly (which it won't). There are lots of ways I can earn a living in the U.S., and most of them are what even the most jaded of us would term "steady" (and with my work experience and degrees, obviously better-paying); there are no such assurances for me back in Asia. A successful business today could be a flop tomorrow; a job offer now doesn't mean a job next year. That may be true in America too... but all else being equal in the respect of the steadiness and certainty of earning a living (which it isn't) it is also here where my "reset" button is. It is here I return to when things go wrong. This is my home port from which all ships of opportunity sail. It's why I'm here now.

Nothing is decided, but it is what I'm thinking about.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jil, You mind IS made up.Get off the dime and start working on it (her visa).

I never thought that you'd be afraid to make a decision once you gathered all of the info to make an intelligient decision.

Bottom line??? What are you risking? What do you have to lose? What do you stand to gain???

We here in CDO will be the losers. We lost a friend, and gained nothing.

Mike Farrell
Cagayan de Oro

Mike Farrell
Cagayan de Oro

Anonymous said...

pinoy food is ugh,inedible,the roads are crumbling,drivers are careless,cars are POS,people are rude beyond compare,noise ,pollution,overcrowded everything,annoyances galore.
Fils has two things goin for it:The beach and sex with hot chicks....
You got some good years in a place most people would run out of as if their hair were on fire(Jasaan),you don't live on the beach and your are married...and,unfortunately, you have to work for a living...
HHHMMM,tough choice?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jil

I've been reading your blog for a few years and enjoy it.

I was sad to read about your return to the States but I think it's a good decision you have made.

It's quite clear to me from your posts on this blog that you love your wife very much and no doubt she loves you very much as well so being apart for a year or two (or even longer?)would be a terrible thing.

You do not need me to tell you that you cannot put a price on the simple pleasures in life such as waking up every morning next to a good woman that you love...it doesn't matter where in the world you live. If I can quote Robert Pirsig for a moment...."the only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the zen you bring with you".

It seems to me that you have found your Zen in Epril....

Get the visa sorted and make Epril's dreams come true.

Best wishes

Cookie

Jungle Jil said...

Cookie. Thanks a bunch. See you soon.

MJ Klein said...

hi Jil

the main thing that bothers me about going back to the States (from Taiwan) is that they are just too many rules there for me to enjoy my life. everything is controlled and/or forbidden. can't even sit outside some place and enjoy a cold beer because it's "public intoxication." also, the taxes are out of control. you were talking about the costs of things in Asia and i've found Asia to be about 30% less expensive all around. no health care, too many rules, too expensive - i won't be going back to the US to live myself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jil,
everything you said it's so true. the MAIN reason to go abroad is to find that woman. you found her and now is exactly what you said. I've seen a little bit of Asia, Thailand and Phillippines and I've run as fast as I could back to US. why I keep reading about Asia? maybe an obsession, who knows, I don't know. a lot of guys can't come back to US, and they have their reasons. honestly, US has the best when it comes to prices for housing, food, clothes. medical care is expensive if you don't have a job who covers that. I've lived in Florida, and man, coming down from NYC, it felt like paradise. I wish I could retired now because I'd buy a house in Florida: dirt cheap, but I have to stay put because CA is where I have a job and I am pretty close to retirement, early retirement.
France will be a sure place to retire for me since I will need to built a bridge for my kids if later they want to live and work in Europe, and also for me because I will have the best medical care in France, for no money or very little. a little place in Florida would made it perfect since I'd like to cross the Atlantic for winter time.
you got the woman, you are happy. you are not happy with the woman, change her and get another: my advice for unhappy single or married man.
Cheers,
Pete, CA

kris said...

I think at this point, staying in the US and getting Epril to join you there, is pretty much your only option. And not even such a bad option.

However, do not underestimate the impact this will have on Epril. I did the same as you, basically, bring my Hong Kong Chinese wife from Hong Kong to Europe. We've been here nearly a decade now and all is well, generally, but it hasn't been easy. We have tons of friends, mixed couples, and they all have similar stories. Be prepared for this. However much she wants to live in the US, and want to be with you (obviously), there WILL be very rough patches. Not the first six months or so, but after that. Don't underestimate the impact missing the family & friends & familiar things (no stinky fish for sale on every street corner, ha) will have on her.

Just my 2c. I wish you good luck with the next chapter in your life and hope you will keep blogging about it. The past three years or so, checking your blog (and a dozen others, to be honese) every morning upon arrival at the office, has become my daily morning ritual.

Anonymous said...

I spent the day today pondering the possibility of staying here in America... bringing Epril here.

To me a complete no-brainer. Get the paperwork submitted and get her here.
After she gets citizenship, you can travel all you want, but I will bet you she will NOT want to go back to live in the Philippines.

To me, guys that refuse to allow their wives to come to the USA are:
1. Losers (can't afford it)
2. Insecure (think wife will run away.
3. Do not want their wives to advance.
4. Have child brides and would be embarrassed here in the USA.

It is selfish not to help your wife to come to the USA. Also in the remote chance she does not like it, she can always go back. The USA is not like other countries in restricting movement leaving the country.

Most Filipinas are extremely anxious to work and make the best employees. My wife has worked many jobs and she has always done very well in all of them. Give your wife the chance of her life, and help her get to the USA and have a real life. You will see her develop beyond your dreams.

Jungle Jil said...

Kris...

I would be interested in hearing about any "pitfalls" you might want to inform me of.

Anon 5:29...

I appreciate that sentiment. It is the same positive way of looking at things that I myself have.

Robert said...

All this advice is great, but you want to be with your wife, she wants to be with you. So, don't decide, just get her, her visa and green card. Have her move to Florida, then decide where you both want to live. But with both of you haveing no restrictions on where can live, then and only then can you both make a decision.

The pitfalls are there, She will miss home. She will miss it more than you will understand

Anonymous said...

Start now, because it will take almost 18-24 months to get an immigrant visa for your wife. Lots of paperwork and waiting for confirmation from USCIS to the embassy to issue the visa.

Jungle Jil said...

Robert,

I don't know how much Epril will miss home to be honest. Epril was away from home once already for 6 months, in Thailand, and she loved every minute of it, and was quite sad to leave. She has the internet too, which is a big help in relieving the pangs of homesickness (as I too am finding).

Anon 12:49,

I don't think so. I've been told one third to one quarter of that amount of time. A lot of the time involved is getting a Filipina girl her passport... which Epril already has. After that, it is anywhere from 4 to 6 months to get the Green Card. Well... no offense, but I hope that in this case I am right and you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jil,

Interesting thoughts. The only thing I would disagree with is "everyone is healthy and wealthy and educated"; you know that's not really true, you're just surrounded by folks who are enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of labor, the retirees. (Maybe you meant that it is true compared to the folks you were around in the Philippines...)

Anonymous said...

Oops! That last comment was from me, your sister, Nancy. ;) Forgot to sign it!

Jungle Jil said...

Hi Nancy.

Yes, my point was that it is true in comparison to peopl ein The Philippines... not in comparison to the rest of the United States.

Grounded Nomad said...

Hi Jil-
Welcome back to the States---even though I know you miss your beloved Epril.

If you ever get up to Long Island, be sure to stop in and say hi!

-Janet

Don B said...

it just irritates the shit out of me that in a country where there are 11 million illegal immigrants, one average joe can't bring his wife here. i mean put the couple through an interrogation and have the penalties for marriage fraud 10 years in jail.

but for holy christ's sake why can't a legal marriage be recognized? you'd think that republicans would be all over this. it's a same sex marriage. but nah they are too busy yapping about illegal immigration while taking money from big agribusiness to look the other way and do nothing about it. it is infuriating at best. that 12 month crap is just obnoxious. our system is just broken.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jil

Your friend from CDO, Ted T. I am also now back in the states (California). We came back to the states in July to get Donna her US Citizenship (12 month process for her). However, while doing the time, she secured a well-paying job. Now our most likely scenario will be spending more time here than originally anticipated. Your sentiments regarding here and there echo a lot of my own feelings.

I believe Epril will readily adjust to life in the states especially if she gets out and starts working. As you probably know, she should be able to get a green card with a few weeks of her arrival and the visa processing time is more in the time frame you are quoting (6 months).

Roger said...

Jil, you're thinking clearly as usual. To me, the path seems clear to me:

Start the immigration process. The time it takes will give you plenty of room to consider which is the best path: having Epril come join you or finding some way to live in The Philippines.

My guess is that giving Epril the chance to live in the US is the way to go for her as a person--time to take a back seat to her personal development. If you do that, as you know, you'll just have to figure out the best opportunities for you given the situation.

My crystal ball says that sooner or later you guys will end up back in The Philippines, but who knows?

Jungle Jil said...

Roger,

"Time to take a back seat to her personal development."

Well said, friend. My thoughts exactly. But at the same time, my opportunities are greater here than they were there... so the opportunity for advancement is much more prominent than it was for both of us.