I’ve spent about two weeks in the US in the last 9 months, and it will likely be another six months or a year before I go back. Here’s what I miss.

I miss the sheer variety and quantity of eating options in America, all the bazillion different kinds of restaurants. I miss the huge portions. I miss free refills, free water, and potable tap water.

I miss English. I could get around just fine in Mexico with my limited Spanish and can talk comfortably to most Georgian people in Russian, but it’s not the same. Being able to say absolutely whatever I want and being able to understand everything perfectly without even thinking about it is something I have too often taken for granted.

I miss fast internet. Here are the speeds I’m working with now. Not fun.

I miss climbing. Saying that most of my 20s have been spent in the mountains is not too much of an exaggeration. I sold a bunch of my climbing gear when I left the States and put the rest in storage. I haven’t climbed in nearly a year, but I still watch climbing videos daily. I miss that unique feeling of being simultaneously terrified, exhausted, excited, dirty, and delighted.

I miss friends and girlfriends. I’ve made some awesome friends while traveling, but the transient nature of this business means that our time to get to know each other has been limited, and love interests have been nonexistent.

I miss the desert. To me, the southern Utah desert is the most beautiful place in the world, and I miss being out there in the emptiness.

I could be so much more comfortable back in the US. Everything could be so much easier. But that’s not the goal.

Sure, I miss getting a massive sandwich with bacon, pastrami, ham, turkey, and three kinds of cheese on it, but I relish every last spoonful of borscht and bite of varenyky I eat here in Georgia. I miss climbing, but I’ve gone snorkeling with freaking sea turtles and stingrays. I miss the desert, but I’m 20 miles from one of the great mountain ranges. Each new experience I have and each wonderful new thing I see adds to a reservoir that no occasional amount of temporary discomfort can come close to draining. I love and miss my home country and the great things that come with it, but I really couldn’t be happier about being away.

Being happy. That’s the goal.