San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Hot Water and Panty Hose: Expatriate Miss Lists

BEING an expatriate– that is, havingchosen to live in aforeign country and,in my case, to speaka foreign language –definitely has its upsand downs. There aretimes I think I mustbe crazy to havemade such a choice,especially since somany of the Ticos Iknow would giveanything to go liveand work in the United States. Othertimes, for example, when Bush got reelected,I think seriously about applyingfor Costa Rican citizenship.Well, I’ve found something that helpsa lot: making up Expatriate Miss Lists.These are lists of the things (not people,values or expectations) I miss and don’tmiss about the United States. I began bymaking two long lists of each, then tryingto whittle them down to 10 items each.It was quite a process. I kept addingand subtracting things for about a week.Moreover, it wasn’t exactly a success. Tryas I might, my lists kept coming out to 15items, in no particular order.I did, however, finally manage tochoose my top two. I must say, I was disappointed.The items seemed so trivial –until I realized they were things I usednearly every day. Here they are: what Imiss most is hot water; what I miss leastis panty hose.In going through this operation, I discoveredtwo things. One was how individualmy lists were. Sure, there are somethings on my lists almost everyone wouldinclude, but most items are truly mine.The second and most important discoveryis that, when all is said and done, none ofthe items on my Miss List are absolutelyessential to living well, and none of thethings on my Don’t Miss List are thingswith which I couldn’t live again.In other words, these things are notthe reasons I don’t live there or live here,and to dwell on them is to avoid the truth.The truth is that I am here because of certaincircumstances that came about in mylife and because of some profound psychologicalreasons with which I wouldn’tdare to bore you.Here, then, are my lists. If there aresome obvious things missing, such asgood roads and efficient transactions, it’sbecause I’ve been here more than 15years, and certain annoyances havebecome expectations.MISS: Frozen spinach • hot water •the Oregon Shakespeare Festival • countyfairs • bumper stickers • licorice • Australianshepherd dogs • National PublicRadio • abundant bookstores • bluegrassmusic • bike trails • cherries • dishwashers• dusk at 9:30 p.m. • junk storesDON’T MISS: Trailer courts • blackice • rednecks • slush • panty hose • baretrees • hostile teenagers • too many choices• March • patrol cars • 115 degrees inthe shade • air conditioning/central heating• the “F” word • getting up in the dark• auto-wrecking yardsSEND your Expatriate Miss Lists tome at It shouldbe great fun to note the differences andsimilarities.

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