It’s fitting, I suppose, that right after writing a long spiel about colds and flus and about how important it is to get a flu shot, I should get sick with a nasty, mystery respiratory illness. I made it to class every morning last week, but I head straight to bed when I got home. Was a shame, really. I was just starting to get blogging momentum going again when I was suddenly too wrecked to focus.
I’m finally feeling better. The slimy nose and the baggy eyes take a little longer to clear up but I can’t complain too much. I’m maintaining my track record of not having to see doctors abroad. (Dentists don’t count.)
So, for the post, I long pondered what kind of topic would let me whine about being sick for an introduction. Then I thought, well, often when you’re abroad and you’re sick, you just want your home and your mommy (having moved beyond driving distance to home a decade ago, I’ve sort of gotten over that personally, but I remember how I felt the first few years), I figured I’d do a post on the biggest comforts I’ve missed since I started travelling.
Of course, each of these is definitely a first world problem and I realize I’m pretty spoiled, even by first world standards. I also wouldn’t trade the past year and a half for anything on this list. This post is meant to be taken lightly, and perhaps for me to remind of myself of everything I take for granted when I am home.
1-Air popped popcorn from my home air popping machine
That’s right, it’s not just any popcorn! I can get movie or microwave popcorn pretty much anywhere, and while they are better than nothing, they’re pretty weak substitutes for the delicious, fluffy, melted margarine and salt covered goodness that I used to make…oh…3 times a week? Seriously. My last machine broke shortly before I left on my trip and I told myself I’d just go without from then on. Yeah. Less than a week later, Canadian Tire found me frantically pacing their aisles until I was clutching a shiny new popper.
I’ve faced a few challenges since being on the road these past 16 months, but nothing like not having freshly air popped popcorn whenever I want.
2- Not living like a student
I was a full time student until the age of 26, almost 27. I was an expert on living on student allowances that barely covered my rent. Then I got to experience the exhilaration of having an income. Weekend trip to Seattle? To New York? To LA? Horseback riding lessons? Spending 4 nights in a row in a fancy hotel? Ski trips to Banff? Craft beers several nights a week? It was all in my reach!
I was pretty good about saving (hence how I’ve managed to support two people while travelling and barely working for 16 months and counting), but I was obviously far from depriving myself.
Then, after 3 years of living like a SINK (not as good as a DINK because single instead of double, but the next best thing), I’m back to counting my pennies, to wearing my 3 shirts until they fall apart (then crying because then I only have 2 shirts) and to walking until my feet bleed because I’m too cheap to take a bus. Every “luxury” purchase, be it book, a song on iTunes, a toiletry that wasn’t snatched from a budget hotel or (this actually happened early on) a 3$ broom from Tesco, is discussed at length between Ed and I, with the goal of stretching my Epic-Journey-Travel-Account out as long as possible.
Sometimes I can’t take it anymore and I slip… Man, buying those Puzzle and Dragons stones for the Final Fantasy Collab was satisfying!
3-A good night’s sleep
I’ve always been a terrible sleeper but the first month and half in Australia was brilliant. I slept like a rock. Then my bad sleep starting creeping up on me again. Finally, when I got to Thailand and met up with Ed, I felt like I stopped sleeping altogether. Curled up with a book in the corner, I’d read, waiting for the sun to come up. Some nights were better than others, but I never got much sleep.
If I were back home, I’d have access to melatonin (maybe it’s just placebo, but it works great for me about 9 times out of 10), which I can’t seem to find abroad. If that failed, I could go to a doctor, have my sleep checked out, maybe get some meds if absolutely necessary.
While travelling, though, you just suck it up and accept that the nights will be long and the days will be blurry as you fumble around like a zombie.
4- My cooking
I’m often asked by the people I meet if I miss Western food. I don’t. I’m not a big fan of Western food and I love East/South-East Asian food. What I do miss, however, is my cooking. Now that we’re living in Taiwan, we do have a kitchen and Ed cooks a few times a week. But since we’re missing an oven (I’m SO lost without an oven!), the ingredients that I use are too expensive compared to Asian ingredients and no one but me really likes my cooking style anyway, I haven’t eaten my own cooking since Australia a year ago. And I miss it.
Along the same vein, I also miss having my own kitchen, stocked with the stuff I like and a tad more counter space than the no counter space at all we have in Taiwan.
5- My living room
The image of my past life that follows me around the most is one of me, wrapped in a blanket, curled up on my round couch (not exactly mine, but close enough), having a beer, eating popcorn (see #1) and watching TV shows, playing on my XBox or reading while snow blows against my balcony window. Around this time of year, the image also contains my Christmas decorations, lights and tree. I love Christmas lights.
And if I’m not in my chair, I’m at the computer desk that I set up in the corner of the room, chatting with Ed, playing World of Warcraft or League of Legends or Mass Effect.
My job back then was stressful, but coming home to my living room was nothing but bliss.
When I first moved out West, I got a lot of “Oh, your moving near Deadmonton?” and some “Deadmonton? LOL! Really? Why?” from people. And early on, I sort of believed it.
It grew on me though, and by the time I was in Australia,
Deadmonton Edmonton was the benchmark by which I judged all other cities.
Even though I lived 3 hours away, my trips to Edmonton were always cram-packed with visits to friends, to my favorite food places, to my favorite beauty places and to the local theaters to see my favorite local actors. You wouldn’t expect it from a freezing city in the middle of nowhere and you do have to dig below the surface (and ignore the asshole drivers – I swear Edmontonians are the nicest people ever, until they get in their cars), but there’s a lot going on. The people are diverse, fun and active. The arts scene, especially the theater, is second to none. There’s great food (though you have to drive around to get to it), great shops, great parks…
Not sure if I could get into being a city pharmacist after I go home, but Edmonton would still be on my top 5 places to go home to.
7- The Rocky Mountains
When I first saw the Rocky Mountains pop out of nowhere at me (it’s not just a cliché, they actually do that), I thought “this is home“. If that’s not cliché enough for you, I’ll assure you that I also considered changing my email and all my internet handles to something along the lines of RockyMntsGurl99. Like, that’s how hard I fell for my (that’s right, MY) mountains.
All the mountains we’ve been through, in Laos, in the Philippines, in Thailand, in Malaysia, they’ve been pretty. They have nice, cool weather, all kinds of rare ecosystems, inhabitants of many cultures and good locally grown vegetables. BUT THEY DON’T EVEN COME CLOSE TO THE ROCKIES OKAY? ROCKIES #1 DAMMIT.
I miss the hiking and the skiing. And the bragging. Yes, yes, these more exotic mountains, sort of get me more bragging rights, but showing them off just isn’t as satisfying as showing off my mountains.
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And there you have it. The biggest things I could think of when pondering what I miss from home. In the future, I should make a post about the things I don’t miss from home. (I feel like not having to go to work every day would be a big #1, but the list should be much longer than that.)