When I was little, most my family used to gather at the beach in Florida for a week every year. There were about 14 of us then, spread amongst three condos. Most of the time we used the condo my grandparents were staying in as our living room. We spent the days at the beach or the pool and most of my favorite memories growing up with my cousins come from those weeks. I looked forward to that week most of the year.
However, for a variety of reasons, we stopped going to the beach my sophomore year of high school. I remember how weird it felt for me to to be at camp in Boston at the end of the summer, when I felt I was supposed to be in Florida. There were still family gatherings, but none quite like beach.
And this year, my family revived the tradition. 18 members of my family came from Michigan, Colorado, and other parts of Florida to meet up at the New Smyrna beach.
And guess where I am.
It’s a decision I made with my parents back in March. We decided it wasn’t smart financially to be back for just one jet-lag hazed week.
Do I regret the decision? Completely. Did I look up tickets to fly there tomorrow? Perhaps. Do I know that doing so is utterly ridiculous and logically I completely agree with what we decided in March? Absolutely. But there are some times when living abroad is harder than normal. Combine this with the fact that many of my friends are using the summer to return home for a bit. As a result, I’ve decided it’s probably time for a Facebook break for a few weeks. I’ve gone a month without it before, I think I can do it again (ignoring the fact that these posts automatically post themselves to my FB).
After a long Skype session with the gang in Florida (and a nice long cry afterward), I decided that sitting around the apartment wasn’t going to help. I sometimes have to remind myself that homesickness is perfectly normal. It’s okay to be sad and miss home, as long as I don’t obsess over that and let it consume me.
So I channeled my angst into movement and went for an adventure.
My goal was a beach I’ve never visited before:
Despite how it might look on the map, it is very hard to actually get to the beach. I had to wander around on forest paths for a while, trying to go in the general direction of the water.
Eventually I broke free of the woods and made my way out onto the beach. There were maybe two other people on the beach with me.
After a bit of contemplative walking, letting the ocean air and sound of the water make me all tranquil and whatnot, I realized I was incredibly hungry. It was time to head to the mall. Problem was, I had no idea how to get off of the beach and I was having trouble finding the path that had brought me here. Thankfully, one of the other people on the beach decided it was time for him to leave as well. I tried to watch (in a non-creepy way) as he headed for the woods and disappeared.
Clearly he had found a path. I retraced his steps and eventually found the right place.
By the time I got to the mall I was gross looking and sweaty, but the cool thing about my new haircut is that it still looked pretty good. A fact that I know you all needed to know. I grabbed some super healthy McDonalds to balance out all that exercise I’d been doing, and grabbed a table facing the windows.
I had done so hoping to be spared a lot of stares while eating. Or, at least, in hopes of making myself unaware of the stares. My back was to the majority of the food court, so most of it was hidden. I was zoning out, fiddling with my phone and eating my meal, when I saw quick movement from outside. I looked up just in time to see a boy pointing at me and tugging on the sleeve of a kid walking beside him. I could see him saying, “Gajin!” And I just gave him the same look I give some of the students when I catch them talking about things in Japanese that they should not be talking about: That “I know exactly what you’re saying” look. Both boys quickly looked away and kept walking, sneaking glances back at me as they walked away.
If I were still living in America, I would probably channel my feelings into baking. Unfortunately, I don’t have an oven. I do, however, have a rice cooker with multiple functions. I decided to get creative and make chocolate chip cookies because, let’s be honest, even if I just make the dough properly it’ll still be tasty. And since I was really just going for the act of baking, not so much the eating part, it was perfect.
First, I had to find my favorite chocolate chip recipe: the Nestle Tollhouse one. Thankfully, Nestle makes that easy enough. Then came the hard part: math. I had to halve the recipe because here was no way a full batch would cook properly. With the help of the internet, I managed to math the recipe properly. The brown sugar I have is different that the stuff I would use in the States (I really doubt there is even molasses in it), but it seemed to work well enough.
They were/ are delicious. I know what to tweak for next time and making them was just what I needed. After ending the evening with a quick workout and watching a Louis C.K. standup special, I think I handled the homesickness pretty well.