Thank you so very much for this comment, Joao Nascimento.

I spent one night in the ER in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, myself many years ago, before I had even moved there. I didn’t speak Portuguese at the time and we had some severe communication issues as no one spoke English (toward the end of the night we found a phlebotomist who did) and I wasn’t responding to treatment either. However, I was promptly attended to and very well looked after and for some obscure reason they never asked for payment and even sent me away with a bunch of meds. Cost: zero. The thing that sticks in my mind was the ER chief coming to see me to try and figure out my curious case, spotting my somewhat frightened face, and patting me on the back with a big smile to indicate everything was going to be OK. Everyone there was extremely kind.

When my friend Tony had a heart attack a few years later, the same people who had looked after me saved his life. So I’m a massive fan of the Portuguese health care system.

Being a French citizen myself, I’m aware of the E.U.-wide reciprocal agreement and can only wholeheartedly endorse your comments: The European system is far, far more superior to the U.S. one which keeps people sick.

As for Portugal and Portuguese history, my heart skipped a beat when you mentioned this was where you’re located. I had inferred you were likely Portuguese from your name. Portugal has to be the greatest love story of my adult life: the country, the language, the culture… you name it. I’m by no means an expert (and I’m still learning about Portuguese history) but let’s just say I never expected to ever have to leave once I settled in the Azores. Alas, it wasn’t to be and I now have to deal with ongoing saudade. This explains it all in more detail:

As for patriotism, I think it is a word that’s frequently misused, especially in the U.S. To me, it means an attachment to a country and its values, and it’s something that, by definition, transcends partisanship. I’m also an American and I’m very much attached to the Constitution and to keeping America’s doors open to those who seek shelter (refugees) as well as anyone who wants to come here and help the country thrive. Because this is how America was built. My Frenchness is easily summed up in our motto: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” with a strong focus on the last one, which means we all stand together and have one another’s back. Am I an idealist? Yes, unashamedly so.

I agree with you about assertiveness. In fact, one of the worst things that happened as a result of depression is that I lost mine. However, vulnerability is also a great way to find out who your friends and allies are, and who is ready to pounce, take advantage, and keep you down. I may be depressed but ye gods, I’m neither stupid nor oblivious! People often make the mistake of assuming so because I’m very open but nope. As for psychopaths, I’m plenty familiar with them too, sadly.

Feel free to ramble away in my comments, your input is always enlightening. Apologies if my reply is somewhat disjointed tonight — I’m severely underslept and had a very long day.

And thank you for offering to stand by me and letting me know I’m not alone — it helps a lot.

Lastly, I will earn my way to France, there’s no if — I have to. But I won’t take my husband with me as I won’t be able to afford to and he can’t be away from his job for a long period of time. Annual leave in America is a joke, nothing like the EU. Many people have two weeks off a year and that’s that. Sometimes, it depends on how long you’ve been with a company so my husband has a little more than that but his mom is also very unwell and he takes care of her a lot.

Phew! So much for intending to write you a quick reply, eh! (PS/I wanted to highlight every single word in your comment but was afraid it’d look a bit messy. I hope many people read it, I’m sure it’ll be a worthy eye-opener to Americans.)

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