Monday, July 2, 2007

There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like Home

I know I’m not exactly returning from the Land of Oz to Kansas, but sometimes there is nothing quite like being away that makes you realize that there really is no place like home. For better or worse.

We arrived in New Jersey a few weeks ago, and of course the first thing I did upon landing at the airport was to kiss the ground. Okay, so not literally, but just seeing the familiar sights of “my” airport left me so giddy that I nearly kissed the burly customs officer who demanded “Why are you a US citizen living in Mexico?” Hmm, different from the customary “Buenos tardes” I would have received at customs in Mexico City, but I was thrilled at not needing to translate – for the first time in nearly two months – the question or my answer.

On the drive home and over the next several days, I realized that while I missed my family and even my friends, what I was most excited to do for three weeks was to eat and drink and shop. Sounds awful, I know, that spending time with my loved ones did not top the list, but let’s get real – they call and visit us in Mexico. I don’t get to have a big bowl of cereal with milk that has no aftertaste or eat New York style pizza or even shop using my left-over Christmas gift cards (and ultimately return things that I later decide I don’t like) in Mexico. So those are the things I spent my entire first week home doing.

On Sunday (Father’s Day), I dragged my sister-in-law, Shaily, to The Lemon Lounge, my and Sonny’s favorite breakfast hangout in good ole’ Basking Ridge. I know that technically I don’t live in BR anymore, but in my heart I still consider it home, and have been craving Phil’s coffee with REAL cream, and the twelve grain bread for months (we haven’t been there since we moved out of the house in March). In fact, I had been anticipating that first sip of coffee so badly that I didn’t want to spoil the pleasure by drinking any other coffee before hand, so I went coffee-less for the two days since I had been back until I could savor that first fragrant, bittery-sweet sip. All that waiting was well worth it – mmm, heaven.

Of course, immediately after breakfast we had to attend Father’s Day Lunch at Bombay, a fantastic Indian restaurant in town, with my in-laws. The fact that Shaily and I had literally gotten up from our table at the Lemon Lounge and headed over to Bombay, a mere seven minutes away, didn’t stop us from eating again. In my defense, I HAVE MISSED THIS, and in her defense, she weighs like 100 pounds so she can afford it.

As I mentioned, in addition to American culinary delights (I can see Aurelie, my Parisian sister-in-law, cringing at the words “American” next to “culinary delights”), I was also craving some serious shopping. So the next day I walked into Bridgewater Commons, my shopping haven for years, stood inside the doorway, and just smelled that indescribable scent of greasy international fast food from the food court mixed with the burning plastic of American shoppers’ credit cards. I was finally HOME.

As a post script I should add that I realize I sound like I have just returned from years of seclusion in Antarctica as I revel in the superficial pleasures of home. While I have traveled overseas a decent amount, I think my desperation for all things American is borne of a month-long deprivation of the “little things” of home along with the knowledge that, unlike a vacation, I will not have access to these things again for quite a few months. So forgive the dramatic gastronomic descriptions.

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