|Plane ride home. Can't really see the tears and |
baggy eyes in this photo though.
From the moment I arrived in Detroit International Airport, I knew I was back in United States of America. Besides the fact that I was greeted with a large, "Welcome to the United State of America!" sign with a bright colored flag and a picture of some good-awful looking family. Here I was exhausted from a lack of sleep, and wearing my Tosajoshi school uniform, hauling 4 large bags through a seemingly endless airport terminal. Large isn't even the right word to use either. These bags were obnoxiously giganta-normous, and had cost me and arm and a leg to ship them overseas from Tokyo. But I was here, and I was happy to be home on some level.
You see, I love my country. You might not have gotten that impression from my passionate talks
|Mt. Fuji. I'll be back one day to climb you.|
Where were all the Asians?
Why was I surrounded by gaijin?
Wait a second -- someone else with blue eyes!
But what really made me remember that I was back home was the lovely Custom officer, Mr. Carlos Fernandez, who must have weighed about 400 pounds. He took one look at me and said, "What the hell are you wearing?" I could very well have answered him with the fact that I was wearing my school uniform from Japan and the Rotary blazer. It would have been the simplest thing to do I'm quite certain, but I did not think that quick. I have been living in Japan, a country known for it's manners, in which bowing too slightly could cause numerous problems. Needless to say I just stared at the customs officer and his foul-tempered mouth. "Great you don't speak English, wonderful," he said. "No I do, but-you-you- see it's been a -long-long time," I replied. "Whatever," came his reply. Somehow I actually managed to get through customs without much more insult expect when some jerk cut me off in line for the metal detectors. I emerged from Customs relatively unscathed but realizing that I was going to have to get used to life back in America.
|My least meal in Tokyo... Katsu Curry (Curry Pork.)|
There is a Japanese Joke, "Outkare Katsukare!" which essentially
means "Until next time, Curry Pork!" Seems fitting to eat
as a final meal.
When the plane had taken off, I sat next to this Puerto Rican fellow, who apparently did not want to do anything but stare at my stupid outfit. I had nothing to do, so I actually opened a Japanese textbook and began studying. There was honestly nothing else to do. The plane ride was fairly short, and I made sure to watch out the window the entire time. I saw the Jersey Turnpike and all the 'beauties' that make up my great state.
When we arrived at Newark, I truly found myself feeling at home. I even found myself sprinting through the terminal to get to the place where I assumed my parents were waiting. Along the way I passed by the little stand where I had a bought a blueberry muffin the year before. I was exhausted having not slept the entire week before my departure for Japan. I don't think at that time I ever really imagined I would be coming back. I was just too excited to get going.
Now I was home. Or whatever that word once meant.
My parents were not waiting for me at the exit. I was disappointed, but when I went to claim my luggage, I spotted my Mom. I actually got to sneak up behind her and say, "Hey stranger." She was surprised because she thought my plane would have come back later. Within seconds, my Dad and Sister came sprinting from the other side of the airport or wherever they were currently causing travel. "JULIE!!!" I had not seen him and my sister in just about a year, so they were marveled at how skinny I had become, how goofy I looked in my school uniform, and how excited they were to have me back. I feel like a horrible person for admitting this, but I had not emotion. On some level I was happy to be home, but on the other I was done traveling. The time in various other airports and on long flights kept me distracted from the fact that my journey was truly over.
In my Mom's new car, which she quickly established that she hated, we drove home. I kept a smile on the whole time, as my parents asked me the mandatory questions, "How was Japan?" I figured I may as well create a perfectly acceptable answer for this question because it would be asked often. I told them both all about my day at the airport, how everyone was there to see me off. I also talked about airline food, and rude customs officers. For some reason I really did not want to talk about Japan. It kind of hurt me, I'm not sure if this make sense. But the whole concept of Japan was causing me pain. I missed it so much and I had barely arrived back and left Japan.
It was all coming back to me as we drove down the main street of my little down. Nothing had changed significantly. The town had celebrated its 100th birthday, and there some existed remanants of the celebration. The buildings did not look aged, and cars still drove along. A year did little but age this place in theory.
We pulled down my street, and eventually into the driveway, which I noticed had been redone. When I climbed out of the car, something fell from the bag. I had been carrying around a glass mug from Kochi all this way with success. Now as it had finally reached it's home, it fell and broke the handle. It was then that I lost it. I don't know that I was crying for the cup, so much I was crying for being in the driveway of the place I was supposed to call home. I did not want to be here, I wanted to be in Japan, and I sobbed for it. I felt horrible for feeling so horrible. My Mom quickly tried to control my sobbing, she told me not to worry that it was just a mug. I tried to collect myself, but I felt like a mess. Then I think that I really hurt my mother when I climbed the stairs into my room. My Mom had worked diligently to make it a great room for me. She had thrown out my old bunk bed, and replaced it with a nice wooden bed. She purchased a great desk and had found sheets of my two favorite colors, blue and orange, to throw around the room. She asked me what I though, and I nodded and told her it was nice. That's it. I'm a horrible person, but all I wanted to do was crawl into a ball and cry.
We met with various neighbors, who had come to see me. Most were shocked and called me much too thin to be healthy. I could not deal with the comments, so I begged my Dad to take my sister and I to a Cold Stone for some Ice Cream. After some tasty cake batter cream mixed with cookie dough, I came back home.
As I lay in bed that night, I was trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Why I was such a horrible person to my parents who had done so much for me, and why I was so upset that Japan was over. I did not get any sleep, even though I had been up for 32 hours at least. Instead I thought about things, everything. I did not want to be this person. I wanted to be that happy person who accepted everything I got with a smile and wink. I wanted to be her. The room really wasn't so bad. In fact, as I gazed at all four walls I grew in appreciation for my mom's tedious work effort. The mug was broken, but it could be fixed with some glue. But most importantly -- I could not be so upset that Japan was over. Instead I should be overjoyed that it happened. And I was. When the sun rose the next morning, I vowed to remember that I had just returned from the best year of my life, and that instead of wasting time yearning to be back in Japan, I should just be thankful that I had been given the opportunity.