The five things I didn’t think I’d miss…

1. Gallon milk

At this point I just miss milk that comes in a jug. And that’s that I don’t even drink milk. But having a 17 month old and a husband who is obsessed with milk in his coffee have made me miss it so much. In Uruguay, as I’m sure it is in other parts of the world, milk comes in a bag. Sure, they have pitchers for you to place the bags of milk in but seriously it’s just such a pain in the butt. You gotta worry about accidental spills and if something icky touches the bag while it’s waiting to be opened. It might just be me but seriously I hate it.

2. The Home Depot

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re currently remodeling our house in Uruguay. Our contractor does all the work but asks us to go buy the materials. No problem, right? Wrong. The way construction supply stores, also known as “barracas,” work in Uruguay is that you take a number to be attended. When your number is called you go up to the person attending and tell them what you need. Here is my problem. You are not allowed to view the product you are ordering. If you don’t know the different brands they have they’ll just give you whatever you want. You might get the most expensive thing or the cheapest thing depending on who the sale person is. Obviously I’m not a contractor or a construction worker. I don’t know what I’m asking for but if I have a list and it is in Spanish and you salesperson are working in a construction supply store SHOULD know what it is that I’m asking for. Don’t give me a blank stare when I say, “Hello, this is an itemized list of what I need. Thank you.” I miss being able to just walk along those aisles, staring blankly at a bunch of stuff I don’t understand wishing that someone would help me but in the end being on my own. Because honestly if all you do is stare blankly at me and are unsure on how to answer my questions then I’d rather shop on my own than deal with your sub-par customer service. My failure in picking the right thing pisses me off a lot less than having to deal with your crappy service and haphazard disinterest in dealing with an “extranjero.”

3. Shopping

I miss shopping without depending on someone for help. I’m not talking about the normal greeters when you go into a store. I’m talking about everything you want to look at is kept behind a counter and you need to interact with people to see what you came for. What if I don’t exactly know what I want to look at? What if I just want to window shop? Are you going to take the time to show me every item behind the counter? I don’t think so. (For more complaints about shopping and dealing with crappy customer service I refer to read #2 again.)

4. Mail

This is probably the most ridiculous thing on the list but seriously I miss going to the mail box and seeing a huge stack of junk mail waiting for me. I miss Saturday mornings at home drinking coffee and perusing through the weeks advertisements and magazines. It could be that we haven’t lived here long enough to really receive mail but from looking at my neighbors I’m guessing that mail in Uruguay is strictly reserved to packages and bills. Magazines are something you just buy at the newsstand and even then Uruguayan magazines aren’t the same as American ones (obviously when your population is coming in at nearly 4 million you don’t have the capital as one would when trying to reach let’s say ~100 million).

5. Driving automatic

When I first learned how to drive a stick shift I was SO EXCITED! It was one of the things on my bucket list and it took me about five months to accomplish it (I took driving lessons once every two weeks so it took me awhile). However, after about a year of driving I can honestly say nothing annoys me more than driving stick shift. I hate how sore my legs get after driving in the city. I hate constantly using both feet to stop and go, stop and go, stop and go. What I would give to just be able to put the car in drive and not have to worry about anything else except not hitting anyone or anything.

Homesick for something that doesn’t exist.

Homesickness is a feeling I’m all too familiar with. Homesick while in college, homesick when I studied abroad, homesick for college when I moved back home, and now homesick for the United States.

I woke up this morning craving familiarity. I wanted nothing more to look out my window and see Miami sprawled out before me. I wanted to get in my car and head down to 8th street to grab some cheese pastelitos with una colada–cheese pastries and Cuban coffee. It’s not like I even had those things regularly when I lived in Miami, but I always knew that whenever I DID want some I could just get in my car and grab some.

When I went to Miami this past September I expected everything to have stayed the same. But even just pulling out of the airport I realized that everything changed. The streets weren’t the same, traffic lights were replaced, and new buildings that were being erected filled the once familiar skyline. Life kept going even though I wasn’t there anymore. I wanted nothing more than to just turn back the clock and be in my element. But my element no longer exists. My comfort zone has moved on. And here I am stuck somewhere in the middle.

I brought up the topic with my parents this morning over breakfast and I asked them if this feeling was normal. The void I feel in the pit of my stomach. And my dad just looked at me and said, “I’ve been feeling that since before I left Cuba. I don’t think anyone actually feels like they fit anywhere. You just have to make the best of it.” And it struck me. I should’ve known that my dad must have felt like that when he lived in the States. He had it easier than most immigrants because he lived in Miami, the cluster of Cuban culture outside of Cuba itself, and he always seemed to effortlessly navigate his way through Miami. Could be that as a child you don’t really think about those things but I just never really took note of my dads own homesickness.

I don’t think I could ever call Miami “home” again. I think I’ve changed too much to find a place for myself and Miami is growing exponentially. I am so proud of the progress and development taking place there, but it’s just not what I remember. Uruguay is where I need to be right now. I’m still trying to figure out how to make this place home. Less because of the language barrier or the cultural differences, but because I’m slowly realizing that unless I live in the NOW no place will feel like home.

I can’t keep looking at my past craving something that isn’t there, and I can’t look towards the future if I’m too deep in self pity to make the most of it. There are going to be days where yes I’ll still miss my forever home, but I need to make the conscious effort to make Uruguay my home now. Even though it doesn’t feel like home maybe one day it will. And if it doesn’t, then I can only hope that one day I do find a place that feels like home.