Embracing Nostalgia and the Question: What Do You Miss Most About The United States?
Or: “Expat” LIfe and Nostalgia
I moved to Belize in May of 2007 and have lived on Ambergris Caye, full-time, ever since. 13+ years living in Belize. Over 1/4 of my life.
Belize is my home. Home. It was a gradual process…but I think I stopped calling New York “home” about 6 or 7 years ago.
One question that I get all the time – from people visiting, from those considering buying a property in Belize and just the curious – is: What do you miss most about the United States?
Other popular questions…and I can go into more detail later…are: “Do you think you’ll stay in Belize forever?” and just in the last few years – “Does Amazon Prime ship to Belize?” (Forever? I don’t know what I’ll be doing next week – and Amazon Prime? NO.)
There are so many things, big and small, that I love about Belize – reasons that it is my chosen home. And I have so much gratitude that Belize makes this choice possible (we know some countries that make this choice prohibitively hard or even not possible).
I also know that my yearly few week trip to the States generally feels INTENSE. Not always but I’d say that is my prevailing sentiment. Touching down in busy Houston or Atlanta…half the flight ignoring the “No Phone” rule and frantically checking text messages, IMs, missed calls as if the fate of the free world lies in their hands…springing from their seats and throwing open overhead bins before the plane even comes to a stop. I almost feel like I’m on another planet.
The overwhelming thrill/fear of a massive Target store, Fight or flight, I think that feeling is called. Or my 6-year-old nephew ordering Alexa to play the newest Rihanna song. Or the otherworldly Amazon Prime – did you know that you can order anything with just a click or two and HAVE IT IN YOUR HANDS in a day?
After just a few days into the trip…I start to miss Belize.
So…What DO I miss about living in the United States?
It’s not the stuff that I thought I might miss…the shopping, the convenience of getting everything all in one place or ordering Chinese food at 11pm. While I very much appreciate a giant sparkling Whole Foods Supermarket or a uber-convenient Starbucks to-go I don’t really miss it.
It’s little nostalgic stuff.
Nostalgia: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
Exactly. For me, it’s not homesickness. I don’t experience that at all – not one second where I wish I could move back to the States. It’s just a warm feeling in my gut…generally sparked by something unexpected and something that is pretty trivial. Holidays, change of seasons…back to school time.
I don’t even LOVE Halloween – it was never even near the top of my favorite holiday list but it really gets me in Belize! Probably because it is part of a WAY bigger picture in much of the United States – cooling weather, cozy turtleneck sweaters, back-to-school supplies, leaves turning colors and then falling off the trees…the smell of the Sunday NY Times and a warm cup of coffee on that first chilly morning.
You probably have your own triggers!
My suggestions for these nostalgia pangs? Embrace them – get yourself some of those treats that SCREAM Halloween or Easter/Spring or the holiday that sparks it in you.
(I love Christmas here in San Pedro SO much – and LOVE that my shopping list is SO minimal, that it doesn’t make me miss a thing!)
BUY one of those $40-60bzd pumpkins that are carefully and specially shipping in a refrigerator container from Indiana to Belize. Carve it – toast the seeds and get ready to store it in the fridge… 85-degree sunshine is not kind to a jack o lantern.
Last year’s imports at the Greenhouse arrived JUST before Halloween.
ORDER a delicious pumpkin spice latte at Lavish Habit on Main Street in San Pedro. SOOOO good.
Or take advantage of the friend or neighbor who is coming down to Ambergris Caye when they ask “Is there anything I can bring for you?” Say YES! Maybe just a magazine…or that favorite brand of body wash you love or…like I did in February…when I saw all those Easter bunnies buck-buck-bucking in the Cadbury commercials.
I asked my friend Staci to bring me a bag of Cadbury mini-eggs. She was waylaid for a bit…well…7 months to be exact but just yesterday I picked up THESE!!!!!
And man…nothing so small has made me feel that good in a while.
Oh…so then enjoy your bit of nostalgia and if it’s still nudging you, remember what else comes with Halloween! COLD weather, long nights, daydreaming about the beach at work and then stepping outside in the slush. Poof. It’s gone.
Now…let me get a pocketful of my Cadbury eggs (that may be all I have left!) and head out for a walk on the beach…in Belize 🙂
And let me know what presses your nostalgia button!