I apologize for my recent mini absence. I have been dealing with my second real round of homesickness. It snuck up on me. I was prepared to miss home during Christmas and my birthday. All my expat friends had warned that it would be hard for me. They retold their own stories and I had braced myself. It hit and I weathered it. Then came June. At first, the excitement over the Rio+20 summit and all of it’s side events held my attention. Then it was over and the sun was still shining. It was still warm and it was officially winter here in Brazil. I realized that I get to miss cold and snow twice a year.
Another problem was occurring subtly on Facebook. At times, I had had and relished the thought that the Internet is an amazingly useful tool for an expat. I can get my news and information instantaneously. I can get it in my native language! There is no long patient, frustrating wait for missives from home that may never arrive. All I have to do is Google it and boom! However, it seems in this wonderful informative time of increasing global connectivity and social media, I can also be reminded instantly of what I’m missing.
Darn you Facebook feed!
I have a couple of friends from home that have also been living abroad. One recently returned from Europe for good and one is back from Asia for the summer. They both have taken to extolling the wonderful things about America that they missed and now have again. Constantly updating their lists in their status feeds.
“C, Why didn’t you just not read their feeds?”
At first, I didn’t realize it was affecting me. They’re my friends and I like to see how they’re doing. I laughed along when they’d point out price differences working to their advantage. I was happy for them to be happy. Then, they started to remind me of things that I had forgotten.
It all started with a reference to eating at a certain restaurant. It’s a local Mexican restaurant that I had frequented for most of my life. I miss Mexican food. I crave it. I dream of tacos and a decent guacamole. I sadly have yet to find it here in Brazil.
They do sell taco kits in stores here and there are a couple of Mexican restaurants that I’ve seen. One day a couple of weeks ago, we ate at Rota 66 in Ipanema. I was the highlight of my week, possibly month.
I had the taco salad:
It was the closest I’ve come to fulfilling my taco fantasies here in Brazil. Very satisfying with big portions, I highly recommend them if you find yourself in Ipanema jonzing for Mexican food.
…But then the Facebook post appeared
My friend spoke of eating at my hometown favorite restaurant, how good it was and what he had eaten. I could almost taste it. As my mouth watered a little at the thought, I continued to read on about my friend dining on french fries from a local fast food place and then driving aimlessly ending up at Walmart. There, he said, he enjoyed buying things he didn’t need because he could.
My other friend updated her feed saying that she was now living in walking distant of a Chipotle and how wonderful it was to have stores open 24 hours a day with constant sales. These updates were accompanied by pictures of endless store aisles full of beautiful mostly useless items.
Ah good for them, I thought. I kept thinking. Days passed. I remembered roads, storefronts and the tastes of things. Then like a piano falling from a tenth story window above me, it hit me.
I missed junk! Junk food, decorative items and impulse buys!
Glorious, glorious aisle upon aisle of brightly colored goods. The convenience! The ease of parking and driving to get to the stores. A leisurely stroll through a football field sized parking lot to an entrance where you’re greeted by someone who could be a grandparent. The bloated feeling of, after downing french fries with countless refills, taking a Sunday drive through curving country roads while listenly to America, The Guess Who or whatever pop song is being overplayed on the current stations.
America, f*** yeah!
My friend posted this with the video and the song. I clicked play on the YouTube clip from Team America, World police and just like when the country singers that I had never liked sang the National Anthem preceding the Super Bowl, that I watched here last year in Portuguese, I cried. Sniffling along singing…America, f*** yeah!
That my friends, was a sad day. I’m sad admitting that happened…but it did.
I guess the lesson I learned is that you never know what you’re going to miss or what might trigger a round of homesickness.
So…coming up next is a post about what I am missing about America, in an attempt to work through this current funk of mine. Also, I share it in the hopes of letting others, who are presently homesick expats or if you’re a visitor from the future, know that you are not alone.