"A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation." - Jonathan Swift, "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How I miss home

Happy first day of spring! I counted up today, and I'm almost 8 months into my 13-month year of living abroad. I spent today packing for a couple of weeks at home and, of course, thinking about all the things I'm looking forward to over the break. And that got me thinking about what I actually miss when I miss home. This year, when I've felt homesick, it's actually usually been a good feeling, because it reminds me of all the things and people I love back home. I'm hoping that when I get back there next year, I'll be able to appreciate those things even more than I did before I left. Of course, things always look rosy from afar, though, so I'm afraid that as soon as I get home, I'll come up with all sorts of stuff that was better over in England! So, I'm making a list here of a few things that I really want to appreciate fully when I get them back in my life.

1. Community.

Family of course is the thing I miss most. I'm very close to my family, and last year (my senior year of college), I was very close to my friends, too (when you live with people for four years, you share a lot!). But this year, I've found myself doing a lot of things alone. I eat my meals alone most of the time, do my work alone, walk to and from school alone, go grocery shopping alone, travel on trains alone. This of course makes it really sweet when I happen to have someone around to do stuff with - when one of my housemates is in the kitchen cooking dinner at the same time as me, or when I run into one of my new friends on campus and sit down to do some studying at the same table. But it's rare, and I not only miss the company I've had from my friends over the past four years and my family for my whole life. I also miss those specific people. Thank god for skype.

It's funny, because I've always thought of myself as an introvert, and I do need plenty of time alone to focus on my work or daydream or just be quiet. Too much time with too many people drains my energy and I have to recharge. But I've discovered this year that too much time without people also drains my energy. I guess the middle path is best.

2. Food.

Not just dishes at my favorite restaurants or special family recipes. No, I miss the food of all the Bay Area, because I'm beginning to realize it's pretty unique. I've complained on here before about much trouble I have finding good veggies around here, and I cannot wait to get back to my local farmer's market. I also just find that people here are less into fresh and healthy eating than me.

Back home last year, a lot of my friends were going vegetarian and even vegan. I'm still an omnivore and probably always will be, but I eat meat maybe once or twice a week, tops, because I love cooking with vegetables. Here, though, people eat so much meat, so many frozen vegetables, so many cans of beans, so much cheap take-out Chinese food. It's not that I abstain from any of those completely (except the beans, gross), but it's weird to be around people who don't know any other kind of food. I was told the other day that I was 'adventurous' for ordering dishes with eggplant and spinach at a restaurant. What?

What I feel is more than just food snobbism. It's profound gratitude that I was raised on truly fresh, local, and delicious food that's good for me and good for the planet. I feel lucky to be able to taste so many amazing things that farmer's have coaxed out of the ground, rather than eating stuff that comes out of some commercial processing plant. Finally, I'm so happy that when I'm at home, I get to buy most of my food from the people who grow it or people who are just passionate about food, to talk with them about it and maybe get a recipe tip or something, instead of grabbing my food off a supermarket shelf.

3. Weather.

Well, obviously. I've talked about this plenty on this blog. But how lucky am I to come from a place without sub-zero temperatures? Not to mention the beautiful ocean that makes the climate so temperate around San Francisco. I will be taking every opportunity to get outside and enjoy that sun when I'm back home.

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