We've been in Singapore for months now, and there are some things that we miss about the U.S.
Above all, we miss our families. This is the longest that either Bryan or I have gone without seeing them. We're both close with our families, and it's been hard being on the other side of the world from them. We do our best to stay in touch with phone calls, Skype, emails, this blog, and snail mail, but there's really no substitute for actually seeing the people you love. I have young nieces and a nephew, and Bryan has a young great-niece (which makes him sound older than 35, haha), and it's hard to be away from the kids when they're so young, because when you see them next, they've changed so much. I'm going back to Canton for a visit in June, and Bryan's going in July, and I know we both are looking forward to seeing our families more than anything else. My nieces and nephew are below. I took 10 pictures of them sitting on that step, and this one was the closest I ever got to having them all look at the camera- from left to right, it's Bella, Laney, and Caden. And Bella looks like she's going to the bathroom. Fantastic. We take so many pictures of the kids that I couldn't find any recent pictures of me with my brothers or my parents! Bryan's family is better at taking family photos than mine, so below is almost his whole family (minus Taresa, the mother of Bryan's nieces and nephews). On the couch from left to right are Solomon (nephew), Chris (brother), Ariya (niece) holding her beautiful baby Freya (great-niece), Colette (niece), and Tanis (nephew). On the floor are Matt (Ariya's boyfriend & Freya's dad), Kathy (Mama Koenig!), Bryan, and me.Of course, we also miss our friends. Bryan and I both have friends that we've had for years- some of our friends go back to when we were in middle and high school. It's hard to keep in touch with everyone while they're so far away, but we do our best. We can't wait to see some of our friends when we get back to the U.S., but we won't get to see everyone- our friends are now spread out all over the U.S. and abroad! I'm very lucky that my best friend Katie and her cousin Mark are coming for a visit in June before I visit the U.S.- it will make the last couple of weeks go a lot faster! And I can't wait to have visitors!! Below is a photo of some of my oldest and closest friends one Christmas, wearing blankets that my friend Michelle made for us. From left to right are Matt, me, Adam, and Katie, and Michelle is down there on the floor. And here's Bryan in Tennessee with two of his good buddies, Brian and Paul.And there are the cats. Bryan had two cats when I started dating him- Brutus, a fat, sometimes surly six-year-old, and Tang, an adorable little orange kitten that I'm convinced has some form of feline Multiple Personality Disorder. When we decided to move to Singapore, we looked into some options for bringing the cats along, but it required a lot of work- drugging the cats for the flight, paying a lot of money to fly them here, and then placing them in quarantine for a month, which I think would've sent fragile little Tang over the edge. And I don't think chubby Brutus would much like the climate. So we made a hard decision and decided that the cats would go live with Bryan's mom while we were here. But we still miss them a lot, especially at bedtime, when they used to cuddle with us- that's Tang below, sleeping in with Bryan one morning, and Brutus, snuggling with Bryan on one of our road trips- I think this one was Minnesota to New Mexico .Now onto some of the less sentimental things that we miss:
*COOL WEATHER* It's SO HOT HERE. I could really go for a cool, breezy day and a cup of hot cocoa.
*Seasons* Everywhere that either of us has lived up until now had clear seasons- the color changing of autumn leaves, snow in the winter, budding flowers in spring, and lovely warm summer nights. Even southern New Mexico got a little snow. In Singapore, it's eternal summer, with a rainy season. Sometimes it seems like time doesn't move forward because everything's always the same when you look out the window. I even miss the snow, although I'm sure that someday I might kick myself for saying that. Below is a fun College of Wooster tradition- the arch of Kauke Hall filled with snow.*Car rides* I miss riding in a car with all the windows down. Public transportation is nice, but sometimes it's nice to just get in a car and go where you want to go.
*Wide open spaces* Singapore is dense. There are buildings everywhere, and even in the nature reserves, the jungle is thick. I miss being able to look out over a big, open field. I never thought I'd say it, but I miss the farms of Ohio!
*Mexican food* Even though we're in a place that's known for its food, we often find ourselves craving things that we can't have. Rather unsurprisingly, we have yet to find good, quality Mexican food on the island. I think our standards might be especially high after living in New Mexico, where it seemed like 8 out of 10 restaurants were Mexican, and all the food was delicious. Nellie's is the best Mexican restaurant in Las Cruces (yes, I know that they got a bad report from the health department, but I don't care. They could scrape their burritos off the floor and plop them onto a dirty plate and I would still eat them). But since I won't be going back to LC anytime soon, I can't wait for El Rincon in Canton. It's probably the second stop I'll make, after seeing my family. Below is a breakfast burrito from a super tasty place in Tempe, Arizona called Culinary Solutions. I mean, it was no Nellie's, but it was still better than anyplace in S'pore.*Ovens* Ovens aren't standard here, so we don't have one. I want to bake!*Long, hot baths* Bryan especially loves to take long baths. I like them too, especially when I can lay in a warm bath and read. No bathtub here!!
*Winter clothes* Hooded sweatshirts, cozy sweatpants, cute sweaters, fuzzy scarves, and long coats. I miss comfy winter clothes. The warmest thing I've worn here is a long-sleeved shirt, and that's only because every public building in S'pore cranks the air-con to an absurd level.
*Cell phone contact* Bryan and I can text and call each other and our S'pore friends, but I miss being able to text my friends and family in the U.S.
*Food* I know I've mentioned food a couple times, but here's the list of things we can't wait to have, either because it's not available here or because it is available but for some reason it tastes bad: Coffee, pizza, Morningstar Farms fake meat, ice cream, House of Tsang Szechuan sauce, Drew's sundried tomato dressing, Louisiana hot sauce, frozen vegetables, Stonyfield Farms yogurt, whole wheat flour, spaghetti squash, Smart Start cereal (it's available but it's over $10 a box!), cupcakes, Wicked Strawberry Blonde beer, and fresh artichokes. I just want to be able to walk into Fishers Foods and pick up everything I want!
*Country music* Don't laugh. I never thought I'd miss it, but I do. I just want to ride around with all the windows down, with "It's a Great Day to be Alive" cranked up on the radio. OK, you can laugh, it IS silly. I haven't heard any country music on the radio in S'pore. Shocking, I know.
*Dogs* Most people in S'pore live in HDB flats, where it isn't very convenient to keep a dog, so most people don't have them. Some expats live in houses and have dogs, and I see them being walked sometimes near Bukit Timah, but overall dogs are just a lot less common here than in the U.S. I've wanted a dog FOREVER. I didn't have one growing up, and I always assumed that I'd get one right away after moving out of my parents house, but I want to wait until I have room for a dog to run around and be happy. Then I will get my little boxer puppy and name him Dakota. For now, I just miss seeing lots of dogs out and about. Below is my old sidekick Sadie, from the Boundary Waters and Zoe, my parents' pup.
*Reading in coffeeshops* Bryan and I used to always go study in coffeeshops, especially over the summer when we were working on finishing our degrees. We liked to hang out there and drink good coffee and read for pleasure too. Here, coffeeshops are always super crowded and loud, and reading or studying is discouraged. I miss funky Spirit Winds and laid-back Milagro, which were both walking distance from where I lived in Las Cruces.
*American holidays* St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Halloween, and more. Easter is celebrated by Christians here, but like Christmas, it just isn't a very big deal. Halloween and St. Patrick's Day just kind of drift by unacknowledged. It's weird when it's just another day here and your friends back home are getting all dressed up in crazy costumes, or going out and drinking green beer.
*Central air* While stores and restaurants often have the air cranked far too high, residences are different. We only have air in the bedrooms and we only turn it on at night. Even then, we have to be careful about how low we set the temperature- a couple degrees make a huge difference in the electric bill. So, while we hang out in the living room, we have to open windows and turn on fans. I miss hanging out in comfortable central air, and keeping the outside heat (and noise) at bay.
I'm sure there's plenty more that we miss, but that's all I can think of for now. Maybe after I go back to the U.S. in June I'll be able to add more to the list.