As of today (July 11th) I have considered myself an expat for one year. I have not considered England as ‘home’ for 365 days. Not that I’ve considered anywhere else to be home either. Dissatisfied with life in Myanmar I am currently between jobs and between countries, touring my way around SE Asia before making another new start abroad.
Will I ever consider England as my home again? Possibly. Hopefully not. I don’t know. But over the course of a year I have realised there are some things I miss:
1) The people. Not the beer swilling, hooligan, tourist stereotypes obviously. But my people. The people who have filled my life and are important to me. Family. My best friend, who will in fact, be heading out this way for her own new job this summer. (I’ve told her to stop following me but thankfully she doesn’t listen!). My old colleagues, many of whom were setting off on their own adventures at the same time as me. The people who showed me love and support when I couldn’t show it to myself. I’ve been a poor communicator of late but I know they’re there and they’re all greatly missed.
2) Cats. I’ve had more cat action while I’ve been touring than I had in the whole nine months I was in Myanmar. (Clearly a sign I wasn’t meant to stay there). But it still hasn’t been enough. I still feel guilty about giving Shelly away, even though it has afforded me previously unimagined opportunities. I am no longer a mad cat woman, although I do still talk aloud to every cat I see! I miss the weight of a cat on my lap or my pillow; the sense of calm a purr gives me; the amusement and companionship I had as a result of being owned by cats (thank goodness for cats on the Internet!). Most of all I think I miss the responsibility of having to care for someone (my cats were my family too) and being loved for it, albeit conditionally, as every cat lover will appreciate.
3) Pavements. Actually what I really miss is being able to walk without having to watch every. single. step. I. take. Mostly, pavements only seem to exist in more developed countries with some sense of infrastructure. If you do get pavements at all in SE Asia, and you can’t bank on it, they are often irregular, dusty, dirty, broken down and pitted with open drains for you to fall into, leaving you taking your chances in the road with the lovely traffic while watching every step you take. It gets a bit tiresome.
4) Wearing jumpers. I know that sounds odd. Who would want to give up year round warmth in the tropics to return to a climate that requires knitwear? I don’t. But I do miss cuddling up in a chunky jumper. I always had more jumpers than anything else and now I don’t need any. I find myself yearning to buy the sweaters I see in the big city malls I visit, knowing I’ll never wear them while trying to justify the purchase to myself.
5) Baths. Long, indulgent soaks in bubbles with a glass of vino in attendance. Of course baths exist out here (although getting a plug for one is another matter altogether) but putting myself in a tub of hot water that matches the temperature outside is an invitation to blackout and do myself some damage.
6) Pub gardens. Sitting admiring some exotic view on a grubby chair beside a dusty road is great, for a while. But I do hanker for grass beneath my feet, slatted wooden bench tables and the familiar twitter of birds rather than the rush of traffic, as me and my friends chat in the warm sunlight under a tree and enjoy our tipple of choice together, whiling away a lazy summer afternoon.
7) A decent cup of builder’s tea. Lipton Yellow label just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid and while I am developing a taste for all kinds of exotic hot and cold tea beverages what I really want is a huge mug of Yorkshire Gold, stewed to perfection and served with sufficient milk to make it the colour of rich tea biscuits.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it does illustrate the things that do, occasionally, catch me unawares and start me reminiscing about life in Blighty. But if they really are the worst of it it can’t be too bad, can it?