After coming back to the U.S., I spent a while belly aching about what I didn’t like about being here, complaining that life is too boring, and in general being a fairly miserable person to be around. The transition back into American culture wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and I spent a few weeks moping around feeling sorry for myself.
No one like being around Eeyore, and I didn’t like acting like a stuffed ass, so I decided to focus on the positive things about being back in my home country. So, without further ado, here is the Wandering Sasquatch Top 10 Things I Love About Being in the U.S.:
While it can be overwhelming, being able to choose the kind of beer I want – whenever I want it – is the utmost luxury, and I love it. I appreciate a good pilsner as much as the next guy, but after approximately 847 pilsners in a row, I was ready for a little variety. IPA, Belgian, Stout, Altbier – you name it and now I can find it. There is a downside to this, though: I have been slowly but surely re-gaining my beer belly that I lost on the road.
Crossing the street (without risking your life)
While traveling, it seems like every time you cross the street you are playing real-life frogger – only you don’t get to come back to life once you are flattened by the cars. In the US, or at least in Portland, if you step out into the street, cars stop and people wave you across. To me, this is the height of civilization: pedestrians having the right-of-way.
OK, I know that this is not U.S. specific – if I was Spanish, I would think the same thing about going back to Spain (I would also be handsome-er-ish if I was from Spain). Knowing what all of the food is on a menu, knowing where to get good Italian food, and what kinds of foods to trust at restaurants is a luxury I didn’t realize I missed.
Having a car
We picked up our car in Seattle and drove it cross-country for the third time in 15 months, which means we have OUR OWN TRANSPORTATION!!! No more busses, haggling with taxi drivers, or trying to figure out foreign public transportation systems. Nope. All of that is gone, or at least gone for a few months. This is another “don’t know what you got until it’s gone” kinda things, and I am loving having personal transportation (other than my feet) once again.
I guess a more accurate title would be “clothing choices” because, as bothersome as it might be, I have been, for the most part, wearing clothes for the past year. Having the choice of what shirts (work shirts excluded) to wear, not just the same 5 shirts I carry with me, is wonderful. It’s like I bought a new wardrobe, but all of the clothes are already broken in and fit me the right way, right off the rack.
Kim and I spent nearly every morning for the past 13 months drinking Nescafe. Now, this isn’t a knock against Nescafe – I have come to appreciate it for what it is. But no matter how you instantly dissolve it, Nescafe is just the methadone for fancy coffee drinkers who find themselves without access to organic, fair-trade, shade growth, Arabica beans, dark roasted and served from a French press.
I love my personal space. In many places of the world, “personal space” is an alien concept. But, man oh man, how I love talking to someone and being able to reach out my arm and not touch them! It’s like my 3-foot, personal space bubble popped right back into place as soon as the wheels touched down in LAX.
Being with my dogs
I can’t really put into words how happy being around my two dogs, Bear and Macy, makes me. Knowing that the dogs sleeping at my feet are thoroughly exhausted from a good walk is one of my favorite feelings in the world. They are old dogs (11 & 14, respectively), and it was hard leaving them before, and I am pretty sure that it will be even harder when we leave again. At their age, I take no time with them for granted.
In Ohio, I get to watch the Reds play baseball 6 or 7 times a week and I love it. Love it. I.Love.It. Like, really, this is super-freakin awesome, oh-my-god-this-might-be-heaven love it. Add a good beer and some sleeping dogs at my feet, and it might be one of the best things in life. (Note: I am also pretty sure that, right now, baseball is the bane of Kim’s existence)
I know this is pretty lame, but then again, I have come to embrace my inner-lameness. Long ago, I turned into the person that would rather listen to public radio than music while in the car, and I am notorious for starting conversations with “so, I just heard on NPR…” It’s one more reason I am really an 82-year-old man stuck in a 33-year-old body, or as I like to call it, my personal Andy Rooneyfication: