I’ve spent the last few days basking in the glorious sun of California (also doing some ever important U.S. Citizenship procedures), as well as hanging out with my fabulous uncle – and I have to tell you, I really lucked out with the weather the past few days. A sublime 90 degrees in the Peninsula and an amazing 80 degrees in San Francisco. It has really made me miss the Bay Area and I realize now how much I took for granted about living here. From my drive to the office, which included views of Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge and a daily run down The Embarcadero to BAGELS!!! (I know, right? Who knew I’d miss those carb infested treats so much?!)
My first few days here were bittersweet and as I mentioned several times to G, kind of like being thrown into the Twilight Zone. I was home but I wasn’t really HOME. Not sure if that makes sense but I’ll try to explain myself: the streets, the smells, the people, the environment, the day-to-day and so much more, were in ALL SENSES OF THE WORD, home to me. This is where I grew up; this is where the coffee shop I’ve been going to since I was 19 is (my favorite latte EVER) and this is where the mall I always go to is located. I have memories that literally line the streets here and I have a story about several of the spots along the road from SF to Menlo Park. YET – my home, in the physical sense and in the sense where one lays their head to rest, isn’t here. And where I was laying my head to rest has been in a bed and a home that isn’t mine (though quite comfy nonetheless.) Whereas Santiago by NO stretch of the imagination feels like home to me, I actually came to miss it due the fact that 1) G is there and 2) my STUFF that makes my home is there. Unsettling to say the least and there have been several times when I have wished to MESH both worlds so that I could have both aspects of home, in one. Obviously that’s not possible and I’ve surrendered to the fact that I have to make Santiago as much my home as Menlo Park and San Francisco feel like home because the fact of the matter is that my home is now there, not here, and no willing (as much as I may try) will result in all my stuff – and my fiancee – being magically transported to my former apartment on Fremont Street.
I’ve enjoyed spending time and seeing people that live here, namely my dear Uncle Pato, Shannon and the Yates – Holland families. I’ve really enjoyed looking at the Holland girls and realizing, with a mixture of nostalgia and awe, how much they have grown up. I met the oldest of the girls when she was a mere four months old and used to don a crazy, Last-of-the-Mohicans-style-mohawk (don’t ask how, but her fine blonde hair used to stand up – literally! It was quite the sight and too cute!) Now, as I’m typing here, I turn to my left and she’s a tall, bright eyed 10 year old who’s playing “Spore” on her family’s computer. When did that happen?? When did she grow up and begin to tell me about the comic books she enjoys reading or about how much she doesn’t like soccer? Her younger sisters I met the instant they were home from the hospital and I have memory after memory of playing with them in their backyard (something called “Tickle Monster” that made no sense to me but kept them laughing for hours). They’ve grown into such smart, engaging and bright girls that when I have a conversation with them, I find myself completely intrigued by what their answers will be and what they’ll point out about the world around them. I mean, of course they’re little girls and sometimes just say little girl stuff…but at the same time, they’re more like little people (not in the “Little People, Big World” kind of way.) I’ve never adored any other kid as much as I adore these three girls and though I try not to freak them out with the shows of affection I shower on them when I get them to spare five mins of their time, I have to say that sometimes I just want to burst with so much awe, love and pride I feel when I spend time with them. I’m just going to put it out there that it MIGHT be possible that I won’t love my kids QUITE as much as I love these girls and if that’s the case, it’s simply because I met the girls first and it’s no fault of my own. There, I said it.
Speaking of immeasurable love, I have one word for you: Target.
When I lived here I knew that I really liked Target. I may have even said the word “love” a few times. But now that I’m back I realize that this goes above and beyond anything the “L” word can conjure up – it’s more about devotion and adoration. I hit up Target like you wouldn’t believe, buying up items left and right that I took for granted when I lived here. In no particular order:
1) Glade Plug Ins. – I bought about 10 of them, not because they don’t exist in Chile, they do. However, the only option that exists is “smells likes ass” and “reeks of designer impostor perfume.” Obviously, we aren’t too pleased with the Chilean selection of Glade Plug Ins. Whereas in Target, there is all the Vanilla one could want and, my personal favorite, Lavender Vanilla. Fabulous.
2) Swifter – dry and wet options. Smog and dust bunnies seem to go hand in hand in Santiago and to combat this (in between nana visits) are Swifter wipes. I can’t wait to swifter away!!
3) DVDs – Mad Men Season 1 and 2, The Holiday, Mallrats, Stand By Me, The Notebook, The Game and Mr. Mom. All great and all equally absent from Chilean supermarket shelves. These will go fabulously well with my 42 inch tv!
4) Goldfish. You know, the cheese crackers we all grow up on in the U.S. They lack cracker creativity for their kids in good ol’ Chilsters and so I have to bring some back for G’s kids. I mean, how can kids grow up without this stuff? They are deprived and don’t even know it!! I’m trying to remedy the situation, one Peppridge Farm bag at a time.
5) Dryer sheets. I’ve mentioned this phenomenon before but they don’t exist in Chile probably due to the fact that most people don’t have dryers. Well we do. Hence we need the sheets.
I made some other purchases as well: organic dish soap, organic deodorant and organic mac and cheese. I’m sure that if I requested this stuff at any Jumbo or Lider in Santiago I’d get the usual “weirdo” look I tend to get from the average Chilean (and let me tell you, MOST are AVERAGE.) In fact, I bought regular and organic mac and cheese because this is another thing that children are deprived of growing up down there. You can get these lame Safeway brand mac and cheeses that have been on the shelf for about 5 years, but then again, it’s no Kraft Cheese and Macaroni.
Finally, I also bought Sourdough bread. Yeah I said it. I love it and it doesn’t really exist in many places outside of SF so I went to Boudin in Fisherman’s Wharf and bought three round loaves. They’re mine and no, you can’t have any. Ok, well maybe if you’re super nice. MAYBE. Oh and that’s if they let me into Chile with them. Customs is so agro, who knows what they’ll take from me. For all I know they’ll be anti my organic deodorant!
In summary, it was bittersweet to be back but the bitter lasted only a couple of days. I wish we had the stuff that makes living here so great (as mentioned above) and I also wish that Santiago was as remotely picturesque as San Francisco is. I also wish there wasn’t the dense smog that constantly covers the city and that the ocean was a mere 30 mins away as it is here. I wish that the people I love were closer to me and I wish I could find cute clothes for under $30, as I can at Target. I wish I could find a latte that tasted as good as Borrone’s latte tastes and I wish I could get dungeness crab at the snap of a finger. I wish I worked in an office with many, many coworkers so that I could have a daily social outlet and feel like I work for a common goal with another person. I wish lots of things and I miss many, many more.
But no matter what that list of wants and wishes includes, living here would mean being without the one person who makes leaving it all behind SO worth it. And well, I’ve been here and done all of it. So now my home is Santiago, next to him and I’m happy with that decision because no Target in the world and no amazing view of Alcatraz can replace what we’re building there. And with that, tomorrow I’ll happily carry my oversized suitcases filled with aisles of merchandise from Target and head back home – to Santiago.