Okay, okay, call me shallow. How could I resist requesting an invitation to stay with Amre after reading the opening line of his couchsurfing profile. A bit about me : +-1m71, +-71 kg. Clear brown complexion. Dark hair. Brown eyes. Big rounded nose. Beautiful ears. The most handsome man in the world according to my mom. I felt a moral duty to verify his mom’s assessment.
Truth be told, Amre’s mom only got it half-right. Amre is indeed handsome, easily among the most handsome in the world. But there is so much curiosity and depth beneath his features, his physical attributes merely support an equally handsome soul.
Amre is French, though few would guess that. His parents fled Syria several Middle East crises ago and landed in Montpelier by happenstance, which is where Amre was born. At age 18 he spent a year in India. “India was my right opposite. It was my rebirth.” He’s lived several other places around the globe, obtained a Master’s in IT Communications in Paris, and married a woman from Venezuela who had permanent resident status in the US. That brought him to Miami.
One weekend last winter everything fell apart. “Within 48 hours we decided to divorce, I found a job in Tallahassee, packed up, drove here, and started a completely new life. Amre is appropriately circumspect on the details, but I gather it was not entirely his idea.
Since then Amre has been working hard, staying fit, eating well, and offering his spare room to visitors like me. Though I arrived with a question on tap, Amre made many more queries. What provoked my trip? How had it changed me? What advice would I give my younger self? Amre is a young man half my age in search of himself; he resurfaced the inner questions I searched at that time in my own life. Given Amre’s earnest inquiries, I am confident he will find a good way for himself.
Amre works for a private contractor that provides IT services to the Florida State Senate. Like most immigrants I meet, many aspects of our culture flummox him. “I thought everyone here would be very hard-driven. I don’t find that at all.” “Why are people here so out of shape?” “I am the only one who wears a suit to work. It conveys respect. Unfortunately, appearances matter.”
Nevertheless, like most immigrants I meet, Amre hopes to stay here. “I believe America still has the idea of freedom. It still has more opportunity than most of the world, much more than Old Europe. Here, people know I’m not white, but they don’t care beyond that.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“Eventually, we will get back to our roots. Now, we are living abnormally. It started with the industrial revolution and become more unsustainable ever since. We can proceed for one more generation, perhaps, but your children and my hopeful children will grasp that we need to change and we will live in balance. Some things will be forced in order to achieve that, but we’ll get to balance. There will still be wars and struggle for power, but we will live with more balance. The Occidental world will ascend and bring their spiritual nature to the fore. I am optimistic. I can see that we will get there.
“I am a big believer in universal income. In purest form, you’re given a basic income to cover your expense just for inhabiting the earth. I do not believe this will make people lazy; they will be energized. If everyone who makes a non-economic choice can be happier, then universal income will lead to greater creativity and happiness.”