I didn’t get any homemade, adorable Valentine’s from my kids. They don’t do Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas crafts at school. We’ve never been to a pumpkin patch. They don’t have the slightest inkling who Martin Luther King, Jr, is (admittedly, they are two and three but still…) and they won’t color anything green for St. Patrick’s Day. Living in Bahrain, not having cable TV, and having such small kids, we could get away with never celebrating anything.
They had no idea there was supposed to be chocolate or candy involved in their yesterday. That was okay.
Thinking about all the reasons I’m not ready to move home only made me more aware of all of the reasons that I want to. Every few months, I get homesick- like pack your bags we’re getting on the next plane homesick. Sometimes it’s because I see something on TV that reminds me of home. More often, a friend posts something on Facebook (see above pumpkin patch) and it forces me to accept that, while my life is pretty fabulous, I’ve given up some amazing things to live it.
The most obvious trade-off is friends and family. We have friends here and our international family, but nothing makes up for life-long friends, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents nearby. The Ladybug and Sprout now recognize the sound of a Skype call and run to talk to whichever Grandpa we’re calling that day. FaceTime means we get to call Sissy whenever the mood strikes us, but it’s not the same as meeting up to hang out or having Grandpa Jeff and DeDe pop over or spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s.
Another trade-off is school sports (I know, I know, go ahead and laugh- me, missing sports??). I grew up watching my sister play basketball. High school and even some college Friday nights were spent cheering as Sissy ran up and down the court and, I can admit it, I got just as into it as the next guy. No, that’s not true. The next guy was my mom and she got really into the games. I clapped and screamed appropriately. My mom clapped and screamed less appropriately. But I miss that. The Rugby Star has started a really good program here, but games are held immediately after school and very few students and almost no parents attend. It’s silent and awkward and completely lacking in school spirit. Growing up in a Southern high school, I’m used to a certain level of team spirit. It’s missing here.
This weekend, my car died at the mall. The Rugby Star had just left for Dubai and the girls and I had stopped for a little energy burn at the indoor play area before heading off to a birthday party. When we got down to the parking garage, the battery was dead. Completely. Lucky for us, a very nice man in a thobe pulled in next to me and was able to jump us off. On the way home, I debated- should I head home and go to the party or go try to get a battery? Nothing feels simple here. I’ve been warned that I will be ripped off because I’m Western and a woman. I also, truthfully, had no idea where to go to get a battery. I couldn’t just pop into the Walmarts and grab one, now could I? In the end, it was far more simple than I could have imagined. There was a garage near our house and I pulled in and asked where to get a battery. They pointed me down the street and I was in and out in about twenty minutes, with a complimentary oil check and a fill-up of anti-freeze. The process wasn’t that difficult, but the not knowing was- in the States, I could handle it, no problem. Despite the ease of the whole situation, by the end, I felt like Superwoman, getting my battery changed all by myself.
I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating. I sure as heck miss driving safely. I mean, come on. Strap your kids in a car seat, drive near-isn to the speed limit, don’t flash your lights or swerve like you’re trying to win a Nascar race and it’ll all be okay. Less death. More getting-to-where-you’re-going.
And just because I’m in Bahrain, I’m really over the dust. In the DR, it was the humidity. In Kuwait, the dust. Shanghai- the pollution. Guatemala- the rainy season. Now I miss the rainy season. And I could definitely live without the dust.
No life is perfect anywhere and I’m happy with my Rugby Star, the Ladybug and Sprout and our Bahrain family. I like that I can easily get Lebanese food and Chili’s delivered to my door. I enjoy walking to work and spending $12 to fill up my little SUV. I love what we have here. But I do get homesick. And maybe it would be nice to get a Valentine from school every now and again.
What do you miss most about being ‘home’?