I don’t really live here

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone

(Gabrielle Bonheur) Coco Chanel

post storm cloudsI share my middle name with several remarkable women: Gabrielle Douglas and Gabrielle Giffords, among them. Two French women and I also share names, but they are better known by single names that both begin with the letter “C”: Coco Chanel and Colette. This week’s quotes come their writings.

During my childhood I grew up in two houses, both in the same very wealthy Connecticut town in the shadow of New York City. We were not wealthy, but then no one else in our neighborhood was, either. Throughout my childhood in another section of town lived one of Connecticut’s senators, Prescott Sheldon Bush. Senator Bush was the father of President George H. W. Bush and grandfather, of course, of President George W. Bush. According to the website Spartacus Educational:

On 8th August, 1918, the Ohio State Journal reported that Prescott Bush had been awarded the “cross of the Legion of Honor, the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross.” The report added; “The incident occurred on the western front about the time the Germans were launching their great offensive of July 15… The history of the remarkable victory scored later by the allies might have been written in another vein, but for the heroic and quick action of Captain Bush.”

Apparently, this information came from his mother Flora Bush. In fact, at this time, Bush had yet to see action on the Western Front. A month later the Ohio State Journal had to report that it was a victim of a hoax. His [Prescott’s] mother wrote to the paper and apologized for providing this false information. She claimed that she had been fooled by a letter she had received from her son that had been “written in a spirit of fun”.

Once again, I’m headed down a diatribe not worth pursuing. Back to my peripatetic life.

I left the second Connecticut home for college in Virginia, where I lived in dormitories and apartments, and once married it was off to Maine where I lived in four houses and two apartments, then Massachusetts and its four apartments and one house, then onto Kansas and Miami Beach, then California and its five apartments, then a Chicago apartment, then California again for two more apartments, and now San Miguel. Interspersed with all the above were brief stops in Paris and Bangkok, and of course there were the many hotels that sheltered me during many years of consulting and working away from home during the week.

Others may have moved far more frequently than I have. For me there’s often been a sense of “this is not my space.” Even when I “owned” the property I may not have felt it to be home. There was always this sense of having to move on, like now.

During the past week I’ve thought about returning to the States (Savannah perhaps, or Charleston). I’ve thought of staying in San Miguel, but in a different apartment. Yesterday I started researching Cleveland, Ohio as a destination. I’m also researching Montevideo, Uruguay and Medellin, Colombia.

Why such disparate options? I’m playing (a) what I can afford to pay for rent vs. (b) the potential cost of becoming seriously ill outside of the United States. If I’m in the States, then Medicare helps me, but I’m paying higher rent; if I’m an expat, I have reasonable rent but (at this time) no health insurance (and I’m paying for an apartment’s worth of storage) as well as the psychological price of not being near my son and grandchildren.

So, I struggle with being something (an expat) vs. being someone (a parent and grandparent).

Women & 2012

missrepresentation.org. Check it out.


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