People often ask me if I miss living in Asia. I really don’t know how to answer this question, because what comes to mind is the pollution this year that has been so high it’s unmeasurable by the current systems. Obviously I can live without that. I miss friends terribly, but several of them have also left in the last year as well, so I know that life there would be very different now. I confess I find America a little boring at times – I go to the store and nothing weird happens, ever. Is that enough to make me miss being an expat? No. I can make my own weird.
We spent time recently with friends we knew in Singapore. We talked about how, initially, my friend missed it so much after moving back here that she just wanted to go back to Singapore, but the reality was, it wouldn’t be the same. We agreed that what we miss wasn’t necessarily the place itself, it’s the intangibles.
It’s things like community. I miss meeting people for the first time and being dear friends with them a month later, because that’s how things work overseas. I miss bonding like soldiers during war time, hunkering down together when the waves of living cross-culturally are too rough.
It’s feeling competent, knowing how to be an adult in the place where you are. I don’t know how to own a house. I don’t know the norms of being a parent in America. One day I will figure out this DVR thing.
It’s being known and understood, having routine, being more comfortable being the only white face than looking like everyone else. These are the things I miss, because they are the things I think we all desire from anywhere we live (except maybe the white face thing. That was just our normal).
I had those things. I miss having them. I know I’ll gradually get them back, over time, for the most part. So do I miss Asia? Let’s just say “I miss that life.”
This is the kind of stuff I just can’t find here.