We’ve been living in Spain for four months, and here are the things I miss most about the US.
Note: This list doesn’t include people because I miss some people more than most of this list.
So, in no particular order, here is a list of my actual first-world problems.
1. Peanut butter
I miss peanut butter. Europe, in general, has been seduced by Nutella, which I don’t fully understand but that’s okay.
In the US, I didn’t even eat peanut butter that often. But I found it comforting that if I wanted some peanut butter, I could go to the store and buy some. I don’t have that comfort here. For example, right now, writing this silly blog post, having peanut butter would really be great.
It’s not helping that my wife, now in her routine of studying for her MBA, sometimes brings up peanut butter.
Me: Hey, it’s super nice out. Want to go to the park?
Wife: You know what I really miss back in the US?
Wife: Peanut butter.
The other day I was looking at some Spanish textbooks online, and even Amazon is messing with me:
Wendy is the name we gave to our Honda Fit, our first car, which we sold before moving to Spain. We had great adventures with Wendy, such as this time we narrowly avoided death on the way to Tahoe. Isn’t she a beauty?
She’s named Wendy because the first place we ever went in Wendy was to Wendy’s.
Pro-tip: don’t buy a car new if you’re going to have to sell it soon.
Also, it’s okay. Dip those fries in that frosty.
4. Drying machine
We have a laundry machine here and I love it. While it’s smaller than the industrial-sized laundry machines of the US, if I’m clever I can fit four shirts into one load. I’ve also noticed that one load of laundry takes about five hours.
This could be our fault. The machine has buttons that we don’t fully understand (see #7, below), but we did figure out how to add detergent and how to turn it on. I’m not 100% sure, but it seems to spin whenever the wind blows, which I’m guessing is some sort of new green technology.
Anyways, the bad news is we don’t have a drying machine. We have to hang wet clothes on a clothesline. I know this is better for the clothes, yadda yadda, they’ll wear out less. And who doesn’t love a fresh, sun-dried shirt or blanket?
My main issue isn’t that hanging clothes on a clothesline is a lot of work. It’s that about 40% of the time, it rains within a few hours after hanging clothes on the clothesline.
5. Garbage disposal
I like to do the dishes in the morning. I find it to be a relaxing, mindless activity that I can do while I’m waking up and waiting for the coffee to boil.
I used to be happy when I got to the bottom of the pile of dishes. Job well done, time for some coffee! But now, when that happens, our drain catcher (or whatever the hell you call this thing) greets me, full of soggy, half-eaten bits of food and scraps, and I have to clean it with my hands.
Every time that happens I miss garbage disposals, even though I’m still scared of them.
6. Air conditioning
While looking for apartments, we made a list of pros/cons of each place. The “con” of the one we chose was the lack of air conditioning.
We moved into the place in July. We couldn’t sleep our first night, it was so hot. The next day we bought a few fans. They helped a bit, but I would woke up with eyes so dry I would instantly start tearing up.
In the middle of August we decided to buy a portable air conditioning unit (this one, which I do recommend if you’re in a sweaty spot). We named her Eve, after Eve from the movie Wall-E. (Do you name your things too? Or is this a weird thing we do?),
Eve is loud and fat and shiny, and can keep one room as cool as the other side of the pillow.
7. Understanding buttons on appliances
We understand maybe 50% of the buttons on our appliances (our place came furnished). Operating them effectively has been tricky. Good news is that we haven’t broken anything or accidentally set fire to anything. Yet.
Let’s look at the oven- I think we’ve got most of the left buttons down (heat the top, heat the bottom, start a fire at the bottom, etc), but what’s going on here?
And the laundry machine? Like I said, we can turn it on and add detergent. Our clothes seem to smell okay mostly.
These are the things I miss in America. But what I really miss is this.