We’re only in the States for a precious few weeks this summer, so I’m packing the time full with all the stuff I miss while we’re in China. Since the theme at Velvet Ashes is “Top 10” this week, I put together a Top 10 list of my own.

Forgive me when I get way too excited when dealing with the following things (not in a well thought-through order):

10. Driving a vehicle.

ALL BY MYSELF. WHEREVER I WANT TO GO. Not that I’m going anywhere spectacular, but, oh, that freedom.

9. Anonymity.

Zero people care that I have entered the grocery store. Zero people mob me to take my picture at the park. Zero shopkeepers will gossip about what I bought from them this week.

8. Giant glasses of iced tea.

iced tea IMG_20150617_164528Sweet mother (or, rather, unsweetened mother) of iced beverages, do you know how big the cups are at restaurants here? And that they have different flavors of tea? And that the tea comes with tons of ice? And that there are unlimited refills? For all the tea in China…

7. Cheese.

If you know, you know.

6. Mexican food.

This could be a Top 10 list all on its its own, friends. Real refried beans, made with lard, as they should be. Real tortillas, also made with lard. Carnitas, tamales, guacamole, carne asada, carne seca, tacos al pastor, chilaquiles, posole…there are just not enough meals for me to get my fill, and not enough room in the customs restrictions for me to bring it across the Pacific.

5. Shopping.

Let’s be clear: I normally hate shopping. I’m apparently one of the only six females on the planet who do. And yet, there is so much happiness in walking into Target, Walmart, or even a grocery store and getting exactly what I am looking for, the first time. I don’t need to spend days shopping for a light bulb, or take my chances ordering online. Plus, they don’t laugh at my shoe size here.

4. Public amenities.

Public libraries with classes and activities for kids, public parks and playgrounds, community concerts and performances, art exhibitions, historical sites, hiking trails, and on and on. The U.S. does public amenities really well.

3. Water.

You might not like the taste, you might complain about whatever the municipal government puts in it, you might shun it in favor of bottled, but the fact is, U.S. tap water will not give you giardia. As I like to point out to people in the States, you have so much access to clean water that you actually flush your toilet with drinking water. (This is a really effective, awkward way to end any conversation, by the way.)

2. The sky.

I can see the sky! All over the place!

1. People.

I know this is the one that is supposed to stay off the list (β€œWhat do you miss most about the States – besides people?”) but it’s so true. I get very happy about seeing friends and family, and am always so sad when our time is limited. All the more reason to look forward to eternity, right?

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