my friend Jason (and 2014 marked 45 years of us being friends…). I think it’s a great way to end this year’s series!
So, Jason asks:
What thing from the U.S. do you still miss after all these years? Also, if you had to leave New Zealand and come back to the U.S., what would you most miss? This could be a food or a store or the way things are done, like the way an election is run, or buying house—something like that.
The funny thing is that I’m often asked what I miss and, well, that’s not the funny thing, it’s that my answer often changes. Mostly, though, it’s food, though not exclusively: It takes a distant back seat to the people who are not here.
One thing I think most people know (or have worked out) is my favourite food on this planet is American-style pizza. That doesn’t exist in New Zealand, so I spend time looking for something that’s good—while not being precisely what I want. Which is NOT to say that NZ pizza is bad—it isn’t—just that it’s not American style. And I can eat a LOT of pizza, so this is a kind of big deal, or would be, if I didn’t find pizza I like.
A lot of the other things I miss are food related, especially (of course?) fast food. But a lot of the grocery products I once missed are now available in New Zealand, either in our grocery stores or from the American products store. We also have several US fast food chains, of course, but nothing like the local places I enjoyed in Chicago (I miss Polish Sausages!).
I also miss things that are nowhere near the same: Marshall Field’s is gone, as are so many of the places I enjoyed. Two of the apartments I lived in are now gut-rehab condos, not necessarily well done, either. Such things are inevitable with having been gone so long.
But the larger truth is that I’ve built a life here that in many ways has replaced what I left behind. Over all those years, I found substitutes, got the same thing here or otherwise moved on. It happens, again, after so long.
Which actually gets to the second part of the question. There are a great many things I’d miss if I had to move to the USA. I would indeed miss the way elections are done and the way houses are bought and sold, and even grocery stores (ours have far more real food than US grocery stores, and far fewer ready-to-microwave meals).
But if I’m brutally honest—and why stop now?—I’d miss the open, honest, far less prejudiced and secular society I now live in. That’s not something one can shop for in stores, or come up with an acceptable substitute for. Though I’d certainly try my best.
The truth is, I don’t know that I could even survive in the US now, because so much has changed—the country, me, every person and place I knew. The good news, though, is that I’m okay with that. It took me years to get to this space, but it’s where I’m at, and I kinda like it.
That’s it for this year! Thanks to everyone who asked questions—Jacquie, Roger, and Jason. I’ll probably do this again next year, but anyone can ask questions at any time: Simply leave a question as a comment to any post or email me. I’m always open to questions!
Thanks again—see you next year?