It has almost been a year since we left the US, but I still miss…
- Walking down aisles between book-shelves at our local library, picking a random book and leafing through its pages rich with illustrations, checking out piles of books (but never finishing most!) because it didn’t cost a thing to do so but gave me immense pleasure.
- Driving through Dunkin’ Donuts and ordering a large coffee and a couple of doughnuts (mostly, toasted coconut and chocolate-glazed) for the whole family to share as we headed to the park in the evening.
- Meeting the other moms at the library during story-time and sharing the woes and joy of raising kids.
- Shopping at Safeway for dinner after Prasad’s return from work. I would sip away a tall mug of Starbucks coffee at the cafe in peace, while he pushed Medha around in her cart, picking supplies off my list. I would sneak in a bit of reading too!
- Visiting National Parks on long weekends. I still remember our early morning walk into the Merced Grove in Yosemite National Park; It was quiet, there was no one except Prasad, Medha and I; We watched the early morning rays of sun filter through the canopy formed by the gargantuan Sequoia trees. I felt blessed that day. Also, I’m abounded with “What ifs” to this day when I think of the lonely hike we did in Yellowstone National Park: What if there had been a bear? What if we had lost our way? I can still feel the relief I felt seeing the lodge below from the top of the mountain we were on, which meant we were right on track. But what a wonderful experience it was! And so were our tour of the other National Parks.
- The early morning drives out of town, with Medha fast asleep in her car seat, soft rock playing on the radio and Prasad listening to my jibber-jabber.
- Our race to catch the sunset in Del mar beach and walking its streets later, especially during Christmas.
- Walking anywhere in the US during Christmas. The whole country comes alive this time of the year. It is as if its people wait all year just to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. I felt warm whenever I peeked into the window of a home that displayed a Christmas tree within its softly-lit hall.
- The tree-lighting ceremony at Oro Valley Marketplace every year.
- Breakfast in San Diego. We used to eat at different places every time and I just loved trying local Coffee and a slice of Coffee Cake with cream on top.
- Friday evenings spent shopping at Trader Joe’s for novel snacks from different parts of the world.
- Visiting the beautiful Krishna temple in Phoenix and gorging on Indian food afterwards
- The occasional snowfall in Tucson. We walked around the neighborhood greeting people in joy, made snowmen and watched Medha eat flakes of snow in delight!
- Drinking hot cocoa and gorging on hot and spicy Huevos Rancheros at the hotel we stayed at during Christmas in Arches National Park, Utah.
- Weekends spent cooking, chatting and dancing with our friends, Vinay and Vandu.
- Shopping at Target with Medha. We enjoyed sitting at the café inside with a tall cup of Sunkist Orange juice and a bag of Popcorn more than shopping at the dollar area (which was pretty awesome too!).
- Sipping Masala Chai, munching deep-fried Indian snacks and chit-chatting with Vidya aunty. I miss her all the time. She always encouraged me to pursue my passion for writing and complimented me for the way I took care of my kids.
- Dancing away to Spanish songs during Zumba.
- Spending Sunday mornings walking through yard sales and buying second-hand, sometimes-useful, but mostly beautiful junk.
- The hugs I received from kids after lessons when I volunteered as a teacher to the under-privileged for Junior Achievement.
Yup…. I still miss the US, but not as much as I used to in the beginning.
I’d love to re-visit the places we once loved and still cherish, drink gallons of Starbucks coffee and hike the length and breadth of every National Park there is. But until then, I want to create similar, beautiful memories for my family here, in India.