Laundry detergent. Lotion. Chocolate chips. A good book. Lemonade. Almonds. Mail. As I finished my bucket bath and lathered my body in Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar lotion, I realized how grateful I was at that very moment. I was clean, using much less water than I used in America, and I had a special treat – new lotion, thanks to my thoughtful grandmother. The smell reminded me of home; I was soaking up a missed comfort, from head to toe.
We tend to forget just how much we have, how spoiled we are. Moving to Cape Verde has stirred up a new gratitude, a new acknowledgement of people and small pleasures that I so often overlook. I am embarrassed to say it, but many things had lost their novelty for me. I could get, within reason, anything I wanted, at any time of day – 24-hour gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. I had everything at my fingertips, or at least at the click of a button. If I wanted Mexican food, I could have it in ten minutes or less. If I wanted an iced latte, I only had to drive to the nearest coffee shop. If I wanted a new book to read, I downloaded it to my Kindle. If I needed new running shoes, I had the choice of ten specialized shoe stores.
I even had a lack of appreciation for people. When my family gathered for holidays, it was expected, an annual event. Now, I enjoy every phone call, every email, every letter, because it’s not an every day occurrence. When I miss someone, or something, I can’t do much about it. I can’t fly home for a day; I can’t run to the nearest store. Rather, I have to figure out how to deal with that homesickness, that feeling that so often creeps up into my throat and threatens to overtake me for just a moment. And this leads me to appreciate — to count down the days until that next Skype call.
Now, when I find strawberries in the market, it makes my week. I savor every juicy bite and then lick the strawberry juice off my fingers. Things have become special again. Life’s little pleasures we tend to forget about, have a new value. No, I don’t need these things to make me happy; no I don’t need them to survive. However, when they come my way every now and then, I smile just a little bit more. I share. I savor every last bite, every last word, every last drop.