Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Like to be in America

I'm visiting the United States for several weeks this month.

When Fabio and I decided to move to Singapore, I knew I would miss my family and friends a lot. I thought I would probably miss good Mexican food and maybe even an item or two I wouldn't be able to find outside the U.S. I had no idea I would miss Target, driving myself wherever I wanted, whole wheat bread, outlet malls, ordering things online, Costco, and affordable Cheerios.

It's hard to explain the emotions associated with returning to the United States after living away for awhile, so I won't try. I feel so patriotic, but not in the ways one would expect. I haven't found myself in awe and wonder over the Primary Elections, the free press, or the peaceful protests. It's the very little things that overwhelm me and make me so grateful to be from the Purple Mountain's Majesty; and then in a very subtle, secondary way, grateful for the system that protects those little things that make America different and special.

My first full-day back we stopped at Walmart to pick up some essentials. My jaw dropped as we walked in. I've been to Walmart plenty of times before, but this time it was different. I had something to compare it to. More than 20 kinds of mascara, an entire aisle for breakfast cereal, two kinds of sugar-free cranberry juice, baby formula for less than half what I pay in Singapore, cheese for pennies on the dollar, and the list goes on.

As I picked up an enormous box of Cheerios, I noticed the price: $3.50. I started to cry. I was so overwhelmed by the abundance that has come to be synonymous with the United States. It wasn't just that there was so much available--so much was affordable. There I stood in the cereal aisle in Walmart, holding a box of Cheerios, with tears streaming down my cheeks. I finally appreciated what I'd always had growing up. I felt so patriotic in the checkout line when a basket full of diapers, a high chair, a baby tub, formula, cereal, fresh produce (including berries), cookies, cheese, and who-knows-what-else came out to less than $150.

Sure, there are shootings, stifling pollution, bazaar political stale-mates, and other aspects of American life that are less-than-ideal. But the other day I drove to the grocery store on my way home from an outlet mall (where there were clothes I liked that fit right), found everything I wanted (and then some) in wide aisles, and paid less than $4 for a gallon of organic milk. There's a lot to be said for that.

God Bless the U.S.A.!


  1. Love you Katie. I should appreciate things more too. It was amazing to see you Friday! I definitely want to try again before you head out!

  2. I was going to email you for your address but it seems like you are in the US of A (and enjoying the prices of the buying power of the US - our last home leave we brought only one suitcase with stuff and 3 to fill up and fly home with!) We have a couple on a mission in Singapore and they wanted to come for a hello, maybe when you return!

    Enjoy and eat some Cafe Rio for me if you can!

  3. I got those same "thankful for my life/ country feelings" after I read "A Thousand Splendid Suns."