Jetlag’s a crazy thing. I dozed off around 11 PM after a day of feeling dazed and drained by the time difference, at the tail end of a (kind of disappointing) documentary about the Krakatoa volcanic eruption of 1883 (I thought it was a better one I’d seen before, which actually spent 2 hours piecing together a description of the geological processes from firsthand accounts and physical evidence in and around the area, while also elaborating on the people affected, but this one was more filmlike, focusing more on the human angle with more incidental geological accounts sprinkled in occasionally…still, it was a welcome and rather fitting welcome-home gift–thanks, Discovery Channel!). I then woke up around 3:30 AM and just could not for the life of me get back to sleep. I’d left WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station, playing all night, to catch what I could of the Saturday night Jazz Classics show I used to be a regular listener of, and woke up to Grieg’s piano concerto during their overnight classical run, which is one of those pieces that you just can’t ignore, for better or for worse, so that didn’t help lull me back to sleep at all.
Instead, after 45 minutes of tossing and turning, I got up, searched around for a lamp to place on the table next to my bed, and after not being able to find one, I sat in my desk chair next to my closet, flipped the closet light on, and continued reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. I got within a page of the ending before the halogen light turned itself off…but that’s okay, because the book hit me really hard, and actually depressed me to the point of tears. I was able to really strongly relate to some of the main character’s thought processes and actions. There’s a lot I could write about the thoughts it sparked, the whole, “Who am I? What am I? Am I Indian enough? Am I good enough Indian and daughter and sister and person?” train of thought, but I’ll hold off. I just can’t help but wonder why, without fail, every single novel about the Indian experience has ended so miserably…even when Indians meet each other in the US and get together, apparently they’re still inevitably screwed! I’m now not so sure I could handle watching the film version that’s coming out soon–the trailer looks incredible, but I think it may be misleading, unless it deviated from the story.
Well, anyway. I am indeed back in Atlanta, after 27 hours of traveling from my apartment in Ikeda to my house in the ATL suburbs, after a 3.5-hour bus ride to Osaka and loitering there and having Subway for lunch, after an hour-long train ride to Kansai Airport and finding out that I’d goofed by not requesting an aisle seat and was confined to a middle one instead, after momentarily panicking about the seating situation and whether I’d be able to make my connection and calling Louise who totally left me feeling at ease, after a 12-hour flight from Osaka to Chicago (which got in 30 minutes early, which is totally the only thing that made it possible for me to catch my connecting flight to Atlanta), after a 2-hour flight from Chicago to Atlanta (and I did tear up upon descending and recognizing Camp Creek Parkway, and landing and seeing the extremely familiar layout of Hartsfield-Jackson, even from the runway, and I realized how much I missed this place and how glad I was to be home), after surprising my parents by coming out via the T-Gates exit on the far end of the ticketing area and not up the escalators from the trains, after driving home through downtown and getting caught in typical downtown traffic and recognizing all the buildings and looking for familiar Georgia Tech landmarks from the (massive!) freeway. It feels like I never left–I was giving my dad directions on how to take I-85 north to go through the city, instead of the perimeter/bypass as usual, even telling him what lane he needed to be in.
One thing I didn’t expect to feel was sadness at having to return to Japan after this week’s up. It’s going to be really difficult, leaving all this behind. For one thing, my new apartment’s big but a little dingy because the previous teacher didn’t quite clean it up as best as he could, and my former smaller place was in far better condition to begin with, and I came home to see that my parents had replaced the kitchen counters, that the whole house felt extremely well-maintained and organized and clean. My parents proposed an idea for winter break where I meet them in Mumbai and we spend a week touring northern India before I fly home with them and spend another week in Atlanta, before returning to Japan. I’m really just not sure yet…that’s an insane amount of flying for me, since I’d be flying west the whole time and would end up circling the world, and I still don’t even know what I want to do for winter break. I’m 80% sure I’m coming back here, to see more people who couldn’t be in town this time around, but depending on how I feel after returning to Japan, and depending on what other offers come around, we’ll just see.
I’ve already been given reminders of why I love this place so much, though, and I haven’t even seen any of my friends yet. It’s now Sunday at 7 AM, and I’ll be seeing the first of them tomorrow night. I’m really looking forward to how this week plays out. Today’s Father’s Day–it’s also the 25th anniversary of my grandfather passing away, my dad’s dad, who died two months before I was born but whose idiosyncracies and personality traits I apparently seem to exhibit a lot of. I guess not being able to sleep and deciding to (almost) finish The Namesake was very serendipitous timing–it’s put things into perspective for me today. I hope today will be a good day, and that this week will be a good week, and that instead of feeling depressed about what I’m leaving behind, I can look ahead and know that there’ll always be something waiting for me when I return.