I will say this now, I love my life as an expat and wouldn't change it for the world. To experience a different culture, meet new people, travel to exotic places, try new foods and learn a new language (see previous blog post), even at it's most challenging moments - I know that I am very, very fortunate. That being said, here in no particular order, is what I miss most about "home", the United States.
- The fact that I miss my family and friends is a given. This does not get any easier as time goes by and in fact is made even more difficult by extended visits home. I miss most holidays and birthday celebrations along with baby showers, wedding showers, weddings, 40th birthday parties and even funerals. Facebook, email, phone calls and Skype are all life savers but it's just not the same as being there.
- I miss the 4th of July and the Wauwatosa parade on North Avenue, complete with shriners in mini vehicles as well as watching the fireworks at Hart Park, covered in OFF while maniacally waving around sparklers and covering my ears during the "boomers".
- I miss being an avid fan of a sports team, any sports team. I confess even after 4 years in the UK, soccer is still soccer (not football) and I cannot tell you who plays for Arsenal, Man United or Tottenham or even what their colors are. The obsession with the WAG (wives and girlfriends) is beyond my comprehension. I can however, still talk ad nauseum about the "glory days" of the mid 90's Chicago Bulls and name a good portion of the 1984 Milwaukee Brewers starting lineup - hello Paul Molitor, loved him so. Oh and goooooo Packers!
- Oh sweet Target, how I miss you so. The fact that I could enter the store with a list of 3 small items to buy and emerge an hour later having spent $131.75 amazes me to this day. If you do not know what Target is, you really don't know what you're missing...and trust me it's better that way.
- On a related note, I miss the extended shopping hours. If I need cold medicine and it's 9 pm, no worries as Walgreens or Duane Reade is still open. There may even be a 24 hour pharmacy - bonus! This is definitely not the case elsewhere in the world as most shops open at 9 or 10 am and then close at 6 pm. As I found out desperately searching for nappy creme (diaper rash) one evening in London at 8:00 pm.
- Just asked the Husband what he missed about the US and his answer was "knowing where I am going, a large parking space and a Satellite Navigation system that speaks English". Did I mention that our Sat Nav speaks Japanese? Very helpful to us as you can imagine.
- We've been lucky in both London and Tokyo to find Costco as well as a few stores that import random American food products. The following are the elusive items that have yet to be found or are simply just not available: Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Fruit Loops, ranch dressing, Twizzlers, fruit snacks, Diet Coke (here in Tokyo), A&W Root Beer, Crystal Lite, Lean Cuisine, Eggo Waffles, and Stove Top Stuffing. To name a few.
Now that I've managed to incorporate the lyrics from a bad 80's hair band into my blog, I think I should wrap up this post. To be completely fair, I will also do a "Things I Do Not Miss about the US" in a upcoming post, stay tuned!
- I miss the friendliness of the American people....and this is coming from someone who has never lived in a small town or even the South. I wasn't sure what to expect in NYC, but I was not disappointed. From the bagel delivery man (yes, I miss him too) to the taxi driver to a street vendor, people are friendly and will (definitely generalizing here) bend over backwards to help you out. Don't get me started on customer service. For those in the US - let me quote the band Cinderella, "You Don't Know What You've Got, Til It's Goooooone".
Packers vs. Bears???? not sure I could even watch the game.