what isn’t here & why they were there…

I was doing it again. I only had one or two items to pick up at Ingles, and since I was in a not-so-familiar grocery store, I began to wander. Sure enough, I ended up in the ethnic food section, searching for familiarity. You may find that odd, since my year overseas was spent in Australia. But consider, I found jars of buttered chicken in the Indian section and sweet chili sauce in the Thai section. How many times did I buy coconut milk, pappadums, and other ingredients for dinner?

Admittedly, there’s a tiny confused section of my brain which expects that if I stare at the shelves long enough, a shelf will appear that’s labeled “Esther, Imogen, Amy, and Claire all cooked these.”. Of course, it’ll come with a list of recipes. I’ll finally figure out why I liked Aussie barbecue sauce when I was there, but hate the American kind. Maybe it’s just because I like it on pizza. Of course, when I had it on homemade pizza, I would combine it with tomato sauce (NOT ketchup), and then add all my own meaty toppings. But NOT capsicums (peppers), either fresh or the ones preserved in olive oil. I did try them, once or twice, and just can’t handle them.

As I think over this grocery store issue of mine, I am reminded that as of April 23, I will have been back in the US for one year, and May 3 will be the two year anniversary for when I arrived in Australia. Lots of anniversaries are packed into April and May, for both Australia and my blog. It has really been that long since I returned to American soil, just as it’s really been THAT long since I went to AUS. Did it go by fast? I’m no longer sure.

Because I’ve had this post on my mind, I drove by McDonald’s, today, and I was thinking that it will never be Maccas to me. The Maccas of Australia was one place I would go in order to read a book, drink a mocha, and veg out while reading a book. Usually while munching on a scone or some other form of dessert. I love coffee shops over here, too, but they’re just not the same. I’m pretty sure ours have a lot more sugar, but since I never worked in a coffee shop overseas, I really don’t know what makes the difference.

Hearing from an Aussie friend of mine reminded me of how much I miss our outings to Bogey’s, and left me with a craving for potato wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. And a mocha, with an Aussie marshmallow on the side. A craving that can’t be satisfied, because even in Australia, I never had potato wedges that were as good as those served at Bogey’s in Emerald. Sure, maybe I’ll be able to find some over here, eventually, and buy myself sweet chili sauce from the Thai food section… but it still isn’t the same.

I haven’t only been thinking about food. Honest. But if you’ve been reading my blog lately, I’ve been thinking about the idea of friendship and how we go about making friends, especially when we’re outside of our comfort zone. It makes you think about the friendships that you had to work for and fight for, as well as the ones you fell into by accident, which seemed to be tailored just for you.

Some might say that it was a coincidence that I met the group of friends that I did, while in Australia. But was it really? You could say that I had two small groups of friends, from two different churches, that occasionally combined into a big group. We mixed and moved around, if you will. From the very start, I was drawn into their circles and welcomed, having common ground to stand on. As I recall, only one of them moved away, while I was still living there, because he wanted to go to Bible school.

And then, during this last year, they began to scatter. A large family of my friends moved to Tasmania. Another friend moved to Brisbane (capital of Queensland). One got married and moved to Sydney. I’m not sure when it happened, but another somehow got herself to Victoria (another Aussie state). And yet another is getting ready to move back to the “big smoke”… which after some digging, I found also referred to Brisbane.

I believe that it was part of the Lord’s plan that I go to Australia and meet these amazing people, and that He had the right ones waiting for me in Emerald. I do not think it was just a coincidence that they were all in Emerald, for that time. Their friendships have enriched my life and changed me, and I will always be thankful for them. And now that some of them have moved on (geographically), I will have a lot more places to travel, when I get back Down Under, eventually!

Maybe I should be talking more about my last year in the U.S., now that I’m remembering the one year anniversary since I returned. But I’ll be here for a long while yet, and you’ve been listening to me yak about America for a year now, so I don’t think I need to go over it. Maybe sometime this summer, I’ll have more to say about this past year in America, and its effect on me. But until I figure it out for myself, I don’t have anything to tell you.

To all my friends and readers, thank you again for sticking with me, no matter what country I happen to be in. I plan to keep writing for a long time, so I’ll keep searching for the little stories that make up the great big story which is my sometimes-interesting life. Have a wonderful week!

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