I heard my someone call out my name at starbucks. I breathed a sigh of comfort when I grabbed my iced latte, not because the wait was over but because that was closest I had been to home in a month. In China, nothing is the same as it is in the United States. That day, the iced latte was more than just an afternoon caffeine boost, it was a cure for homesickness in a cup.
The double iced latte lead me outside and into a public restroom next door. I walked in, hung up my jacket on the door, and slung my bag over the door handle just enough to keep it from touching the ground. It was at that moment I realized that there was no toilet; only a hole in the ground that could flush. I tried to balance my latte on top of the toilet paper dispenser. I was later told that I was lucky to have even had toilet paper, as most squat toilets are BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper.) Not sure what to do next, I carefully removed my pants one leg at a time, making sure not to come in contact with the cold floor. Wearing my boots and nothing else below the belt, I squatted down with the edges of my feet in front of the hole. There was now a closet’s worth of clothing hanging on the door. Sweating, I accidentally knocked the latte off balance and with it came the dispenser, leaving the entire floor covered in iced coffee. When I was finished, I felt like I had just completed a lower body workout. On my way out, I tried not to make eye contact with the gentleman who was next in line. I breathed another sigh of relief when I got outside.