I leave in a couple of days for a two-week trip to the US to see my family. Two weeks seems like a lot of time but it always goes quickly, and it’s never enough time to see the people I want to see; nevertheless, I’m looking forward to it.
I’ve been living abroad for three years now and it’s funny, the things I end up missing. It’s never the things that I thought I would miss. (This isn’t including people, of course– I always knew I would miss my friends and family.) I was pretty homesick my first year in Turkey but it got a lot better after some adjustment, although Christmases away are still pretty hard. But the things I miss most are things that I barely even noticed while living in the US.
I miss peanut butter.
I miss being able to walk into any clothing or shoe store and finding my size. (Turkish women are tiny!… They don’t even sell my shoe size here. The woes of being an almost-5’9” American woman living in Istanbul.)
I miss being able to find lots of different cuisines at the grocery store.
I miss stores and cafes opening earlier in the morning.
I miss central A/C.
I miss closets! Oh how I miss closets. One wardrobe is not enough storage for two people living in an apartment, and I don’t even know how families with small kids manage. Where do other people store their vacuum cleaners? The fake Christmas tree between seasons? (Okay, maybe not too many Turkish households have to worry about that one…) The sports equipment? The luggage? I NEED CLOSETS IN MY LIFE, DAMMIT.
But the thing I miss most of all is…. driving to Target.
Let me explain.
When I was living in the US, I didn’t have any particular affinity for Target. I liked Target a regular amount– I went there when I needed to, but I never went around talking enthusiastically about how much I loved it or how great it was. It was just a store I went to sometimes.
But now, when I think about things I’m excited to do when I go home, one of the first things that pops into my mind is getting in the car, driving to Target, and walking around.
I think it’s less because Target is just that awesome, and more because it represents everything that I can’t do in Istanbul. Istanbul is a city of about 15,000,000 people, which is actually probably a low estimate, so hopping in a car and doing *anything* becomes difficult. Istanbul traffic is horrendous. This sometimes makes running mundane errands difficult. We try to do most of our errands in our neighborhood, where we can walk to the stores, but on the occasions when we need to go to a bigger store elsewhere in the city, we take a deep breath, gird our loins, and accept it’s probably going to be at least half a day of battling with traffic and crowds. There’s nothing fun about it.
And Target has everything– one stop and you’re done. Again, this is very different from Istanbul, where we end up going to multiple stores to find the things we need.
So the thought of getting in a car and driving on calm, mostly clear roads to Target and being able to get everything in one fell swoop sounds almost Utopic.
Of course, there are good things about living abroad that balance out the things I miss– I might miss Target, but not enough to move back for it. And there are things that utterly confuse me about the US now when I visit. (The serving sizes are huge! … Why is the smallest size of a milkshake 16 ounces? You can’t even get a milkshake that big in Turkey! And why oh why does someone need that many different options for toothpaste?)
Bags are (almost) packed, passport is in my purse… I’m ready to go.