1. My dog. I should probably feel guilty about not putting my family and friends here first, but those people can Face my Time. Kizzy and I have tried communicating that way, but it stresses her out to hear my voice and not find my actual person. I ease my eternal ache by forcing my students to look at pictures of her and playing videos my mom sends me over and over. My mom also sent me a minute-long clip of a blanket, which she swears the dog was under. And I watched it twice to make sure. My standards for entertainment are incredibly low in my post-TV world.
2. Food. I think I began the list in my diary of foods I want to eat once I’m back home in October. Don’t get me wrong – the food in Brazil is incredible. I am well-fed. But as soon as I am on American soil. I want to be double-fisting tacos and deep-dish pizza with an IV-drip of only the finest Napa Valley wine. I want frozen yogurt by the POUND, to walk to a Starbucks just to drive to another one, and the smell of bbqs, and craft beers, and eight thousand dips and chips. I want to eat salsa out of a tub like it’s ice cream. And sleep with an avocado.
3. Driving. I sold my car before I came here (THAT was a fun nightmare) and it’s actually been awesome learning to navigate public transport and also to walk everywhere. You have to really want something to walk and go get it. My favorite grocery store is over a mile away. I miss driving for the convenience, and also for the windows down, music up, where do you want to go? feeling. I do not miss paying for gas or insurance, or paying attention, or sitting in traffic. But I miss the freedom afforded with a car. I miss making a five hour playlist for a 45 minute airport run.
4. A familiar concept of weather and seasons. It gets dark at 5pm here. In June. I can’t. Also it’s “winter” but I’m sweating? All the time? Still? Christmas is hot? Easter on the beach, too? Does not compute. Also whenever it dips below about 80F, Brazilians put on parkas and beanies and turtlenecks. It’s cute, but confusing.
5. Random farms and nature-y bits. I miss open spaces of grass…and fields of mustard flowers…and cows and sheeps and llama farms, and miniature horses.
6. Running into people I know. Which is funny, because when I was living at home in the Bay, the last thing I wanted was to see someone from high school or someone’s parent I played AYSO soccer with when I was five. While I do enjoy my anonymity quite a bit here, sometimes you wanna go . . . (ps if you didn’t immediately start singing WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME then I just don’t know).
7. Target. Mossimo brand tank tops, sunscreen, goat cheese, cheap wine, cute towel sets, dollar bins, $5 movie shelves featuring ALL the classics, and sunglasses that break almost immediately all in one place? I need nothing more from this world. I want to get married there and they can sponsor my wedding. I will put the Target symbol on my butt I don’t even care I miss you so much.
8. Kombucha and Whole Foods and the weird healthy stuff I like, and the stuff that pretends to be healthy from Trader Joe’s, particularly their condiments section. Could have filed this under “foods” but “hippie healthy stuff” deserves it’s own category.
9. Pools and hot tubs. And backyards. And firepits. And decks. All we know here is an apartment. “Backyard” is actually a vocabulary word I have to teach all my students. As is “lawn.” I want to float on something with a drink holder, and then walk across wood slats so hot they burn my feet. And later, sing around burning things that fill my hair with smoke smells for days.
10. Proper showers: Water pressure in the shower. Hot water in the shower. Room to shave my legs in the shower. Actually feeling clean after a shower. I sweep and clean up my bathroom and bedroom and shower once or twice a week, and even in cold weather like this, I can make tiny sandcastle villages with the amount of beach I drag in with me on the daily. And I haven’t had a warm or hot shower since . . . I think I had a few in Colombia in January. Certainly not here. Something is wack with my shower, but at the same time, it’s like *shrug.* I live in Brazil. Stay mellow. Cleanliness is a state of mind. Cold showers build character.
11. Cheap stuff. Clothes, school supplies, fast food, buying a bunch of stuff at Michaels because I think I’m going to spontaneously become talented in the crafting arena, failing within five minutes, but not caring too much because I only spent 8bucks. Eight bucks here is 25 reales and five terrible beers on the beach when I’m hot so no-can-do crafts.
12. That Family Stuff. When you move to a different country, you end up creating your own family – people you can celebrate Thanksgiving with and not feel like a moron for how much food you feel compelled to eat, people who understand the importance of red solo cups and baseball and Halloween, people that also have two eyes…we all have our own standards for this. But you will miss what’s happening at home.
There will be gatherings, weddings, babies, group photos, “happy birthday” songs sung, traditions and holidays and guess what – life itself – will all continue with or without your permission. You’ll come back after a year or two and realize everyone is taller and has a lot of stories and references to things – personal or pop culture – that you simply don’t understand. And so will you. You’ll have to explain a hundred times how your public transport works, or the exchange rate, or what exactly you do for a living.
It can be shocking to learn that family gatherings will still happen without your approval – Grandma Great will turn 100, with or without my blessing (and actually probably outlive us all). But you find a way to Facetime, or at least text sympathetic things to your siblings while they endure the events in person, which is just as helpful, I think. Or I like to think. :)
This list could get longer…because I sometimes miss really specific things, like ice cream trucks and vending machines. And feeling safe in a car. And hot Cheetos!!! But even when I look at this list of largely superficial things I miss about being home . . . dang, it’s always always good to live in Brazil. Especially as I post this right before I leave for four days on an island :).
love you for reading wish you were all here.