People often ask what I miss about living in the US. The easy and most significant answer is that I miss my family and I miss my friends. It’s hard to be far away. As for other things, I’ve been keeping an informal list running in my head — and I just spent three days in Baltimore for my great-uncle’s memorial service, so I’ve had a chance to confirm some of my thoughts:
1. I miss driving. I never thought I would say that — I was glad to sell my car and move to the world of public transportation — but I really miss the freedom of a car. I miss the open road and driving too fast and having the windows rolled down with terrible country music turned up too loud. I don’t miss traffic and I don’t miss roads crowded with strip malls, but I do miss getting behind the wheel.
It would be nice to own a car in Singapore, but I doubt that will ever happen. Cars here are prohibitively expensive. Actually, the car alone doesn’t cost so much — the pricey part is the COE, or the Certificate of Entitlement, a license that the government requires for each vehicle bought here. COEs are one of many clever ways that the Singapore government makes money (the COE can cost more than the car itself), cuts down on the number of vehicles on the road (the COEs are frighteningly expensive, so most people don’t buy cars), and keeps the roads relatively environmentally friendly (each COE expires after 10 years).
2. I miss wide open spaces. It’s nearly impossible to get away from the built environment in Singapore.
3. I miss hard copies of The New York Times. The only edition you can get here is the international version, which appears to be about fourteen pages long and seems to exist only in hotels. I do read online articles on my phone on the bus on the way to work, but it’s not the same — I can’t skim the same way, or stumble on things like this:
Otherwise, I miss fresh fruits and vegetables in season (it was a treat to have real asparagus again). I miss inexpensive, well-mixed cocktails. I miss my garden and my kitchen. I miss cool nights. I miss Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore, especially when the azaleas and tulips are in bloom:
I miss the fact that people are willing to do very strange and beautiful things, like hang hula hoops from trees and then play recorder underneath:
I miss my Mock Trial Team — they just won States!!!
My suitcase provides good evidence of other things I miss: Dansko shoes and Utz giant hard pretzels and Tazo Passion tea, fireballs and pectin jellybeans and candy corn (you’ll notice a theme here). If I’d been able to do a little more shopping, I also would have returned to Singapore with fancy cheeses and dried sour cherries from Trader Joe’s. You can get almost anything here, but some items are impossible to find. Prescott requested Nyquil and Sudafed, which don’t seem to exist in Singapore. Those aren’t exactly things we miss on a regular basis, but when you have a cold, you suddenly miss them a lot.