Introducing Bree and Ben
Our Story and What to Expect On Our Blog
Why move all the way there? Are you sure about this? Trump will be out of office and things will change back—just you wait. You know it’s cold there, right? But it’ll take forever. It’s freezing there. You’ll be so far away. You know it’s cold there, right?
Those have been the responses we’ve gotten ever since we first told our family, friends, and colleagues about our decision to travel. We were going to travel across Canada to not only explore, but also to determine if we wanted to move there. It was early 2017, and even though many disgusted Americans, like ourselves, were claiming that they were going to move abroad, we were serious about moving because we’d actually been considering it for much our lives.
I had entered adolescence during George W. Bush’s administration, and spent those eight years petrified and disgusted by how the U.S. was conducting itself in the world. The election of Barack Obama changed all of that. It seemed that the country was on a path toward ensuring universal equality and humanistic development around the world. My time living and studying in France in 2009 showed me that the world was in great admiration of the country—even bakeries had his campaign slogan on billboards! I observed how more advanced France was in many respects with health care, environment, civil rights, etc., and wondered why we couldn’t follow suit.
France saw itself as an actor that had a role to play on the stage of the world. It wanted to engage in the issues that plagued our civilization and the planet. The U.S., on the other hand, always wanted the world to orient its priorities and interests to itself. It never saw itself as an actor—just an overbearing director that scolded each actor to play identical roles. Even though the U.S. had elected a good leader, the world abroad seemed more advanced. The election of 2016 crushed any last hope that I had for the U.S. It showed me that Trump was only a symptom of the darkness that lay within the soul of the country. Sure, there can be brief periods of progress, yet it would always revert to this—Hyde was clearly more prevalent than Jekyll.
So, what galvanized us to undertake this journey when we did? In all honesty, we took advantage of a perfect storm of circumstances. By February 2017, we had just gotten married after nearly seven and and a half years together, so we were primed for an adventure. By the end of March, the lease had ended on our apartment in L.A., so we no longer had an anchor to a physical address. Our old Saturn L300 had gone kaput and we had just bought a used Prius that was in great shape. Bree wrote for a travel column and I was a travel agent; both roles could be done remotely on laptops anywhere in the world. And, with the new administration coming to power, we just wanted to get away from it. Was it as simple as packing our storage unit, car, and then hitting the road in a matter of days? Not at all.
We studied scores of driving routes; researched which cities hosted our best interests (veganism, nature, entertainment, and shopping streets which favored small businesses); and looked into each city’s real estate market, school districts, and anticipated development—i.e, are they going to grow and advance responsibly and sustainably, or were they looking to just build skyscrapers that only billionaires could afford and push out all lower and middle-income people as San Francisco did?
What did that plan ultimately look like? In 2017, the theme of where we visited was, essentially, “Where do we want to live and where do we feel the most safe?” considering gun violence and anti-semitism were rising trends around the world. This lent itself to a journey of mainly cities, so we could have access to vegan options and connect with a diverse population.
Our intention was to explore and learn as much as we could about the cities and areas that we’d want to call home. By the end of that trip, we looked at our stops on a map and realized that we didn’t get to know much about Middle America or rural Canada. Before we booked our trip for 2018, we asked ourselves, “Where do we feel uncomfortable? Where would we have the greatest culture shock?” After taking into account vegan options once more—‘cause we still had to eat—we tried to create a plan with the opposite goals of 2017. We wanted to know and experience every part of the U.S. before we decided on an international move. We wanted to be as informed as possible.
Even while our hearts began to point towards Canada, we still wanted to see if perhaps not all was ruined in the U.S.—perhaps there was a particular state or city that provided the opportunities that we sought. By the time we had finished traversing Canada in 2017, we learned that its cultural values were just closer to ours—those of health and wellness being a universal right, maternity and paternity leave, and civility. In the U.S., these basic values are still being contested, and after our conversations and observations, we realized that they may not be institutionalized in our lifetime. In Canada, we saw a future where we could grow into the people that we wanted to be, which is why we are working on moving there legally.
Today, that adventure has not slowed or stopped at all. While we have decided to move to Canada, we are now in the throws of the long, glacial process of immigration. As we work on that, we want to share what we’ve learned and observed with you. We aim to make this blog a place to guide people to kind choices in shopping, travel, and dining; a place to discuss our journey and what we learned about each space from an anthropological point of view; and a record of what has been happening during this tumultuous era in history. In this time of fervor, we hope to reveal and promote kindness for that is what the world is surely lacking in 2020.
After over three years of traveling, we visited 38 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, and 60 cities in Canada and U.S. combined…and counting. Follow along our journey with us to see where our lives take us next.