Well over two months ago I returned home on the anniversary of my first year in Japan. Fourteen hours on a plane, 5 full length feature films, two episodes of airplane TV, 1.5 warmed over cardboard tasting meals, and the seemingly mandatory unpleasantly rude and crowded two hour stagger through US immigration put me finally in the familiar embrace of my two very best friends.
(Now, you’ll notice, if you are an especially aware reader, that I went home way back in the beginning of August. Since we’re now to the late middle of October, I obviously have been a miserably undedicated narrator these past months. I hope to write another post with great haste to bring back the great and grand times of my past months, but let’s get back on track with the story at hand.)My parents are simply put the best, and somehow my excitement to see them and the rest of my family destroyed the ever talked about trials of jetlag. I adjusted quickly to the time, and spent two weeks in Parkersburg (hence forth referred to as “The Burg”). I ate like a king for days on end. All the trappings of flavors long desired and seldom seen in Japan: salamis, cured meats, blue cheeses, cheap watermelon (this was fantastic), Mexican foods, Grandma’s angle food cake, and GOOD BEER (oh how I have missed good beers).
While the food was fantastic, the company was the real treat of being home. The time spent with my grandparents was especially wonderful. I finally got a chance to photograph my grandfather’s old cars and barns (I have been waiting for the right camera for this job for years it seems, and my Nikon really came through).
It was so great to spend those two weeks soaking in my family, but for all the greatness of my visit there was the undeniable strangeness of returning “home” to America. This can perhaps be best outlined by a shopping excursion to Sam’s Club. I never realized how different the shopping layouts and personal mannerisms of the crowds that surround you can affect you. Everything and everyone in Sam’s seemed huge and ridiculous to me. From the giagantor sized cuts of beef, pork, and chicken to the cheapness of the produce. From the towering ceilings to the super sized waist lines I saw, EVERYTHING WAS HUGE! It took my breath away, and blew my mind. My world was rocked. There were 100 times these realizations as I drove, walked, and looked upon my home town through the eyes of the me that has been living in Japan. This is something we’re told at every orientation meeting, and that I experienced personally when I returned from living in Nagasaki for a semester. Reverse culture shock is such a challenge for some, and for me I think it was made stronger by how much I adore my life here in Japan. NOT THAT I DIDN`T, OR DON`T, love my life back home, but my life here in Japan is so vastly different in so many ways that were I to return to living in The Burg it would seem like a great loss of many things I find comforting now. I won’t list those things, and know that many of them are the fantastic friends I’ve turned into my family away from family here, but it is safe to say that whenever I return to the States in a permanent way I predict it will take time to readjust to all the Americanisms.
I must be clear that I am not saying Japan is better than America, or that one place has it right – rather, I am saying that I clearly love my memories of home, and the bonds of friendship I have with my family are the foundation of all that I am, but flying back to Kochi felt a whole lot like coming home. This is the longest I have lived in one place since High school (without substantial breaks like there are in college). Nothing more, perhaps, then thoughts on a cloudy fall day. Home was indisputably wonderful, but I really can’t wait to share my new home with my parents and see their reactions to the world that has become so familiar to me over this past year.
More to come