I’m starting this one off with one of the biggest clichés out there – are you ready for it? …Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Need I really say more? That phrase is pretty self-explanatory. Here are some things that I truly appreciate about the US, and miss now that I no longer have them at my fingertips. Some of them are silly, and some of them are a bit more emotional.
 Wide Open Spaces
Obviously, forests and fields exist everywhere, not just in California – however, what I miss are some specific open spaces. The open emptiness of my hometown in the desert, only interrupted by distant mountains or alien-looking Joshua Trees; The vastness of the ocean and brightness of the sandy beach; The foggy mornings and hikes atop the rocky cliffs of the Central Coast; and even the ability to take more than a half-step and open my arms fully in the shower. Here in Paris, space is limited, so you learn to occupy less space. You learn to eat with your elbows close to your body at restaurants, since often you’re placed at an almost intimate proximity from the stranger at the adjacent table.
 Singing in the Car
This goes along with the previous point. In Paris, instead of hopping into my solitary second-home-on-wheels, I walk down the road and step onto a train full of commuters and tourists: always people everywhere, and always conscientiousness about those people. In my California car rides, I could turn up the music loud, pretend like I had the voice of Beyoncé, and even dance a little if the mood struck me. Even if things got too hard or stressful or overwhelming, I could scream, and nobody would hear or judge me.
 Not Caring if I looked like Shit
How many times did I run to the nearest grocery store in badly-fitting pajama shorts, oversized tee-shirt, plasticy flip-flops, a messy bun, and no makeup back home? Countless times. How many times have I done the same here in France? ZERO. I find myself intensely more aware of my appearance now. If I don’t feel like putting on makeup, I’ll at least try to put on something that looks “effortlessly elegant.” I really, really, really miss not caring if I looked like a bum, because everybody looks like a bum in public every now and then in CA, so nobody will judge you. In France though, I’m actually SCARED to wear sweatpants out of the house… is it all in my head? Perhaps a little bit – but the fact that the fear is there must say something.
 24-Hour Anything and Everything
Oh how I yearn for the option of the 24-hour diner. Good ol’ Denny’s is always there when you need him (or her?). When you’re too tired, lazy, drunk, or bored to eat or hang out at home, there’s always Denny’s. The late-night menu, the cheap prices, the option to sit there for hours with your bottomless cup of Joe… There was one 24-hour diner a block from the beach called Harbor House, perched right on top of Pacific Coast Highway; onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and ginormous ice cream sundaes, just so much delicious crap to choose from! This doesn’t exist in France, and neither does WalMart. If I wanted to go browse the new drugstore makeup releases at 11:30 at night, I could! At WalMart! Here, the nearest supermarket closes at 9.
There’s nothing that parallels the elation one feels when scoring a pristine Free People top for only $3.99, a quality winter coat for $7.99, or a quirky mug to add to your collection for less than a dollar. Goodwill stocks their fair share of tattered garments, don’t get me wrong, but they almost always have a few hidden gems that make you love thrifting. A Goodwill trip nearly always ended in me coming home with something interesting and CHEAP. The thrift/vintage stores in Paris just aren’t the same. Yes, a lot of them are well organized, well-stocked, even with re-worked vintage items. These are great for browsing, but doesn’t change the fact that they’re DAMN EXPENSIVE! No, I will most certainly NOT pay 35 euros for a pre-owned piece of fabric that covers my butt in a drapey fashion (I’m talking about a skirt).
There are perks to the Parisian way of life, for sure. No longer the hassle of traffic or road rage, more things to do, beauty everywhere, and delicious food, but nothing will ever compare to home. I’ve never been keen on feeling Patriotic, in fact I’d often roll my eyes at any open display of devotion to ‘Murca. However, I’m starting to feel proud of my nationality, and certainly of my State. I know I’ll end up back in the US eventually – I’m just glad I’m allowing myself the distance to truly appreciate what I had all along.
I completely agree with wide open spaces and singing in the car. I remember last year thinking “I never sing anymore!” Singing really makes us happy.. Gotta keep it up in some way!