Of course, I miss family and friends above all.
But in Shanghai, there are several things about life that I am starting to truly miss at eight months in. Daily grind in the ESL mines aside, there are little things that I am starting to remember wistfully that I never thought I would. Things that are totally taken for granted in my other international homes.
I miss drinking tap water.
I miss washing my clothes in hot water every once in a while.
I miss an oven. God, I miss an oven.
I miss peppermint mochas at Starbucks as a winter treat for a week completed. Must feel too cold for Chinese sensibilities, that cooling mint.
I miss my corner pub, the Leyton Technical.
I miss Waitrose. It seems an impossible place these days.
I miss my computer (RIP due to Shanghai humidity).
I miss not waking up and having a coughing fit every morning due to ‘China Lung.’
I miss radiator heating.
I miss fresh, cheap craft beer.
I miss fast and consistent Internet access.
I miss dry air that isn’t quite so damp in our house.
Of course, there are things I will miss about China when we go. Our clothes balcony that faces the sun, for instance. Readily available, cheap tea. My new proletarian revolution mug. Bushy, our houseplant. Fruit stores on every corner.
Oddly, Shanghai is the first place I’ve lived abroad that doesn’t feel like another home. Our apartment is very homelike, but that could be achieved anywhere. I’ve been here twice the length of time I lived in Ferrara, but it just doesn’t feel like a new international home. I am just not a Shanghai person, more than anything. The culture doesn’t suit, in as much as I am able to understand it through the opacity of the language barrier.
Or maybe London has occupied forever the place of The City in my heart. The sprawl of Shanghai with its brand new apartment blocks and shopping malls is convenience personified, but I just find it soulless. I tried to remember the last time I walked on grass last night on the bus, and couldn’t. It may have been September, but I can’t be sure.
Shanghai is ‘home’ for now, and soon enough I will be able to get up in the morning without coughing, drink fresh water from the tap, and put something to roast in my oven. It’s all temporary.