Sometimes I actually forget what it was like to live in the USA. Sometimes – not always.
Especially when I reflect on the way I do things now. Things that I’ve become so accustomed to that it seems like I’ve always done it this way.
Let me elaborate on what I mean:
Washing our clothes in the front-loading washing machine in the kitchen. In Scotland, washing machines live in the kitchen. The utility room around the corner, which is unheated, contains the refrigerator. This is not the norm, but all three homes I’ve lived in here have been like this.
Speaking of laundry, we do not have an electric clothes dryer. Many people do, I think, but we don’t. Instead, the clean, wet clothes get hung up on radiators and on the drying rack, that, for us, stands in the upstairs hallway. Needless to say, doing laundry is a much more time-consuming affair than it ever was in America. No nice warm, soft clothes fresh out of the dryer, but unless I really think about it, I don’t remember to miss it.
Washing dishes by hand is normal to me. I’ve even come to think of dishwashers as luxury items that waste loads of water and electricity. Again, many people here have them, but we never have. And, we wash the dishes in a single sink, instead of the common double sinks for washing and rinsing, that are found in most homes in America.
Then there’s the heat, or more specifically, the lack of it. We have radiators (as mentioned) that are turned on and off by a central timer. We have always lived in old homes which haven’t been brought up to modern insulating standards. As a family of five who usually have other people coming over, we need a lot of space, which is more difficult to find here. Homes are more compact. Compact homes are warm and cozy. Older, roomier homes are drafty, damp, and COLD. I’m not complaining! Just being factual. Trying to keep the house warm means bigger utility bills, so to keep the bill manageable, the heat has to be regulated. I don’t always think about it, as I’m accustomed to living this way. Until it’s not quite Springtime and Winter seems like it will never end. That’s when I start peeking at the local temperatures where I’ve lived in the past and remember what it was like to have nice warm days occasionally.
Convenience, or more precisely, the lack of it. By American standards, of course. Fast food. Drive-thru everything. Taking your car everywhere.
As missionaries, we hardly ever have fast food. My idea of “fast food” is frozen pizza from the local grocery store.
And it is convenient – it’s only a five minute walk from our home.
Until recently, we didn’t have a car, so we walked and took buses everywhere. A great deal of the time, we still do. I don’t think anything of walking five minutes to the bus stop, riding the bus for thirty minutes, and then walking another 10 minutes to get where I’m going. It’s become “just what we do.”
Until we have an American friend come to see us, and then suddenly I’m seeing everything the way I imagine they are. That’s when an element of fun and novelty returns for awhile, and I remember how cool it is to live in a historic, capital city with a castle in the middle of it.
Do I miss America? Sure, I do. Sometimes more than others, because I don’t always remember to miss it.