International American Dreams
Once upon a time, I woke up and realized that I have had a pretty transformational journey towards, around, over, and through the American Dream. Unlike most of the Americans around me; I am a naturalized citizen to the United States of America. It was not my born right to live the life of privilege that I did. My American Dream began in 1975 when my parents came to the land where “money grows on trees”. We had an eventful roller coaster of being rich with a private plane, pool, and live-maid to declaring bankruptcy. Maybe I had to taste the world of materialism and consumerism (My parents’ American Dream) to reach my own dream?
Like most first generation immigrants to a new land; my parents had to go through the growing pains that come with instantly becoming a ‘foreigner’. They neither spoke the language nor understood the culture; and as children, we always felt bitter that our parents couldn’t help us with homework, and spoke so funny and different than all those around us. I attended a special ‘foreigners’ kindergarden with classmates Chazad from India, Andre from Argentina, and MooMoo from Nigeria. In elementary school, I was the only Jew. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good, it was just me feeling like a didn’t belong.
My American Dream was to belong, to feel complete. So, right after high school I moved to Israel, my home land, and there, felt like the “American”. The world of dual-citizenship has taught me (and for the large part pushed me) towards finding my own American Dream, which for me means a- belonging to myself and my family and b- means belonging to the world. As a nomadic family, it has helped me see how we are all both foreigners and locals, don’t belong and do belong. As we settle down in each community for a couple of months, I DO BELONG, until I move on. But, I know my place in this world now- wherever I unload my backpack there’s me.
American Dream meant that Kobi and I could return to the US for one season of selling ice cream out of ice cream trucks and pay for an amazing Central America backpack adventure. The American Dream meant that Kobi and I could end up staying in Houston, and without a penny to our name, work hard and not only buy 5 ice cream trucks, but pay our way through college and university, and save for a down-payment for our first home in Israel. The American Dream meant we both qualified for student aid and federal funding and we both appreciate all that our degrees have brought us. The American Dream meant we both got Federal funded student loans which enabled us to get the education two young kids so badly wanted.The American Dream meant I could dream and decide that I wanted to raise my kids in Israel, near Kobi’s family and in the heart of breath-taking nature. As my sister and I left prosperous lives in the US to raise our children in Israel, our International American Dream came full circle. Our generation “undid” if you will what our parents’ generation did; and who knows, where our kids will end up in following their truths.
And now, My International American Dream means not letting society’s norms and expectations decide how I spend my hard-earned money. My American Dream means that we can ditch our lives back in Northern Israel; ditch the job, the home, the routine; ditch a really good life which we dearly loved to pursue another dream.
For me, American Dream meant
(as a child) learning from others what ‘the dream’ is;
(as a young adult) appreciating and benefiting from the systems in place giving me access to education which I otherwise could not afford and then;
(as me today, the mom/wife/writer) breaking free and redefining ‘the dream’ in my own terms.
Here are some of the American Dream reflections by my fellow travel blogging families. I feel so remarkably blessed to be a part of this tribe, this community of people who also said, “No way will someone else dictate my dreams,” and took the bold and crazy steps towards their own truth. I love being a part of that. Enjoy their articles. Each is unique, reflective, and flavored by its own God-kissed light:
Around the World in Easy Ways – An American Dream Fairy Tale
A King’s Life – Redefining an American Dream