Tuesday, May 19, 2009

the things you hold onto

there's no place like home

i've lived away from my country of birth during the whole monica lewinsky thing + the entire bush administration, that's now more than a decade. people always ask me what i miss. and aside from my family, which is a given, i usually say, just The Gap. and i do miss the gap. except when they forget that what they do is make great hooded sweatshirts, but i'm confident they'll remember soon.

but when i think about it, there are other things. like hot rollers. nobody does hot rollers where i live and i'd like to have the occasional curly hair day (that would make my mom happy as well, she always thinks that a look is never really complete if you have flat hair).

and there's the fact that clabber girl baking powder is the best kind. we, of course, have baking powder too, but it's just not the same. however, our yeast (blocks of the fresh kind) totally kicks those wussy dry packets. and mom sends me clabber girl when i need it.

and although ikea now has a form of zip-loc bag available, you can't get that really nice little snack size zip-locs that are ideal for sabin's lunches. so we still import those.

i would say that i let go of other things in stages. for the first couple of years, i imported mentadent toothpaste. i loved that stuff, but now i've gotten used to colgate (because it's available here too) and i no longer need to use up valuable luggage space on that. i'm not even sure they still make it. i think i liked that little push thingie it came in.

i also would lay in a large supply of dry idea deodorant whenever i was home, but now i can deal with whatever's available on the grocery store shelf--rexona or whatever. it really all works equally well. (except when you forget to pack it.)

i miss regular access to vanity fair and atlantic monthly and the new yorker, but perhaps enjoy them more because i only get them once in awhile when i pass through an airport or city that has them, so the pain is less than i would once have imagined.

same with movies. i used to have to see every movie in the theatre on the weekend it came out. now, pretty much the only time i see movies is on a long-haul flight. and i don't miss it, not even a little bit. perhaps my taste has improved or movies have not. but with something like a new james bond, we do still go on opening weekend. (perhaps i should take a lesson from this on the whole getting rid of the t.v. notion.)

some of these are surely products of growing older, but they're also about the adaptability of humans to their surroundings. i have my frustrations with what i at times perceive as the impoliteness of danes, but for the most part, i feel i'm home. it's here my best and favorite people are and our home is filled with memories of our life, even if we use different products than i was once used to.

i think it was B who said it not long ago, home is where your books are. your toothpaste and deodorant, those change. and as you can see, my books are most decidedly here...


Jelica said...

The pragmatic in me can't help it but you can subscribe to The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly (I assume Vanity as well, just these two I know for sure)--if they deliver to Hungary, they will most certainly deliver to Denmark.

We can't get local papers (hint: Hungarian no good) so our New Yorker and NY Review of Books are our most precious reads. We give them away to other friends so we don't feel so guilty about accumulating all that paper (six years worth of subscription--that's hell of a lot of paper :)

julochka said...

Jelica--i know and i did subscribe to the Atlantic in the early years, but it's gotten so the pleasure that i feel in getting the occasional copy is greater than the monthly pleasure of receiving it in the mail. plus, so much is available online these days (tho' you can't beat the feel of a fresh copy in your hands and the smell of the ink on its pages in your nose). i do have lots of great reading materials at hand, b/c danish newspapers (at least the ones we get) are great, so i'm not that starved for news. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Oh I know so well what you mean. When we drive to the Netherlands or when when we have friends/family over, the car is packed with stuff we have to have. Things that we cannot buy here. My cupboard almost explodes than. We even bought our venetian blinds in the Netherlands. We went to all kinds of stores, we searched the net and couldn't find what we wanted. Than we went for a visit to family and thought well lets look here. One shop, 15 minutes and we had blinds in the size and colour we wanted. We were so happy.
Think we are still a Dutch family who happen to live in Danmark.

hele said...

if denmark is anything like your photos i would love to see it.

what always make my throat close up a little bit is how safe it seems there. at the moment i would give a lot to just feel safe in my home.

Eliane Zimmermann said...

L*O*L now I understand why my American neighbors used to import tons of zip-loc bags! when they left Ireland for health reasons I inherited a few pounds of them and I really love those!

Anonymous said...

i have lived away from home for 13 years, so i totally know what you mean. its the little things that you miss most.

Polly said...

it took me a while to find my space in London because I also really missed Polish-German way of life. I still occasionally bring toothpaste over and I always bring sweets, they're just better, no question about that. I think this may add to the sense of not-quite-belonging, because I don't identify with Cadbury chocolate as "our" chocolate and things have changed where I come from so much that it's no longer my world I used to know

but my books are in London so I guess that's where my home is, I totally agree with that

Tara Thayer said...

Thanks for the gratuitous kitchen shot. And your bookshelves kick it.
Glass of wine?

Just Jules said...

Yes, but I bet your list of what you don't miss about this place would be longer now wouldn't it?

McGillicutty said...

Julie.... visit my page I wrote something similar about being an ex-pat and the things you miss. Neil Diamnond summed it up perfectly.."Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays, I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home
New York's home, but it ain't mine no more."
Thanks for sharing...Ali.
p.s. I toured Denmark with a choir in 1987 and I thought it was beautiful, the people all seemed to be TALL!!!

beth said...

funny how we adapt...
but oh, there would be so many things I would miss terribly and the gap would be on my list, too !!

actually the gap has gone a little "too nice" for me...but the gap outlet....well, I think it's similar to heaven, just without the pool and the pina coladas !!

Liz Fulcher, The Fragrant Muse said...

In Rome I missed weird food stuff. Sourdough pretzels and Breyers mint chip ice cream. I'd gorge on them when I came home but they were somehome better in my memory when they were inaccessible. I also missed proper queues, polite salespeople and efficiency in general.

k said...

that's funny about the Mentadent. my dad recently ran out and was on a mission looking for it. he had gone to every store he could think of, except Target. We went to Target. No Mentadent. Consensus: they don't make it anymore. He liked the pump feature too. He wouldn't stop talking about it.

Unknown said...

Yes, home is where your books are (love your photo!) and last time I went to Spain I brought some more back and I feel better!
What I miss the most is the food (such a cliche), and I always bring tons back!
But Polly and McGillicutty are right, Spain has changed so much (or maybe I've changed) that it's not my world anymore. Oh, dear, you're getting me started on the whole where is home again?

will said...

We've moved around quite a bit and have lived in the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast regions ... what we frequently talk about and miss are the favorite restaurants we no longer can go to.

Elizabeth said...

Hej Julie,

Was just over at ressurection fern. Margaret has a tutorial on the crocheted fish.

Have fun.

Magpie said...

Home is where your books are. And your underpants.

Liz Fulcher, The Fragrant Muse said...

Oh Elizabeth!!!! I'm so thrilled that you shared!! I'm going over right now and learn how to crochet a rock fish (there certainly seems to be much rock goings-on this week)

Char said...

love all the books - funny thing about things we think we must have, when we don't have them, we usually make do. I like that.

Fidgeting Gidget said...

Your bookshelves just took my breath away..I love books. There's a lot of stuff from the US that I miss here in Canada, too...namely the Meijer stores, cheap but good wine, Flamin Hot Cheetos, and Milky Way Midnight candy bars.

julochka said...

hele--you should come to blog camp. tho' i'm not sure how safe it's going to be, but at least it will be fun. :-) i'm really sorry you don't feel safe where you live, that is such a world-shaping thing, to feel safe.

eliane--a good zip loc is a marvelous invention.

kamana--it's amazing how you adjust tho', isn't it?

tara--gratituous kitchen shot? me? come on, it's home! ;-) and yes, i would like a glass of wine, it's been two days!

jules--just watch, i'm sure it's coming soon.

ali--i'll check it out soon, just gotta make it thru this week!

beth--it is amazing how we adapt. and i agree that the gap has changed a bit (hence the hooded sweatshirt comment)--they've gone all banana republic and since i've not been in BR since november, i don't know where they've pushed it.

FM--gotcha on the polite sales people!

RM--i'm kinda glad to hear about the mentadent, then i can really consign it to a fond memory.

B--that's a whole 'nother post--i definitely do not feel at home in the US anymore--it went a bit mad in my absence. i'm sure it was it. yeah, had to be it.

bill--there was this thai place in hyde park and "the kitchen" in iowa city. i still long for that on a monday night.

Elizabeth--i saw that on flickr, but haven't visited yet. must check it out when i get home (since That Girl didn't pack any crocheting stuff this time).

Magpie--home is definitely where my underwear is when That Girl packs my suitcase. luckily, she wasn't involved this time.

char--it's true, you make do and you even find new stuff you wouldn't want to live without if you left this place.

FG--cheetos definitely not on my miss list, but i do get the occasional craving for a taco john's potato oles. :-)

Geneva Flooring said...

Hold up! THats your kitchen!?!?! I would kill people for that counter space!

julochka said...

aqua sass--did you think i would post random pix of someone else's kitchen? it is amazing how fast that counter space fills up....

Laura Doyle said...

It was nice to read this. I always wonder what it's like for others who move overseas...the things they take on and the things they let go. While I was in Turkey I got used to brushing my teeth with bottled water outside my tent and walking a quarter of a mile to the bathroom in the middle of the night. My first night back in the states, I left my apartment when I woke up in the middle of the night to pee. I came to in the parking lot. : )

julochka said...

starlene--i fear i just woke up my neighbors on both sides of this hotel room laughing out loud at that. that's hilarious!

Jill C. said...

Your mom sounds like mine. My mom actually bought me hot rollers the last time my parents visited us! lol!