Did you know that the United States spends more on national defense than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom, and Japan combined. While the chart above illustrates last year’s defense spending in dollar terms, the United States has historically devoted a larger share of its economy to defense than many of its key allies. https://tinyurl.com/yaq8c4wv
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I’ve never felt free in the States. The dock I’d been assigned to in life anchored ghost ships that, lacking a sense of purpose and care, fail to leave port after some time at sea. We were white, Protestant and upper-middle class, but there weren’t any lighthouses that I could see, not in the courthouse or the church or the social worker’s office or when the cops would come to our home to stop my parents from killing each other. Growing up, I used to watch my grandfather, a former prisoner of war, trace the perimeter of the yard with a flashlight, seeking the enemy. He’d rant about evil at dinner. The peas on my plate would dance to his fists. “Shell shock,” mother said. I’ve been told that I have eyes in the back of my head. In America, if a girl wants to get some sleep, she’s got to roll her body into her bed sheet like a burrito and then stuff herself between the mattress and wall. In America, if a woman wants to keep her job, she’s got to smile when the boss tells her that he prefers her in a pencil skirt. In America, you jog with your keys between your middle and index fingers. In America, childhood’s a war zone. I live on the other side of the world now. But, even with a buffer of decades and nine thousand miles, the body remembers. Cortisol and norepinephrine, the hormones of trauma, are sea legs. How many millions wobble-walk? It’s been eight years since we left America. I called myself an expat until that word was rotting cargo. Only immigrants get fresh starts. Conversations with my husband, a Filipino-American yet again displaced, are reef knots. What will we tell our son, who holds a U.S. passport but must serve in Singapore’s military? What survivalist lies will we tell ourselves about identity and home? What do we say about family trees splintered like kindling wood? Every few months, we play the repatriation game. “Should we move back to the U.S.?” I ask. Then, a list. Shootings. Heroin. Racism. Walmart. Misogyny.