It’s been exactly three days since I’ve landed stateside, and jetlag is still kicking me around. It usually doesn’t take me more than two days to get over it, but I woke up inexplicably at 5:30 this morning, decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood as the sun rose, and then was really wiped out (though we went shopping and I picked up a She-Ra: Princess of Power DVD! Score!) and dozed off on the couch for the second time in two days around 1:30, only waking up 3 hours later when my dad woke me up. I’m still feeling a bit sluggish, though the sleep and all the water I drank when I woke up both helped.
Yesterday, my dad woke me up bright and early at 7 AM (gee, thanks), and we went out to order me a new pair of eyeglasses, since I snapped the pair I’d ordered a couple of weeks before coming to Japan cleanly in two just 3 days before I returned to the US.
But on a positive note, the official offer for the design job came through last week! I haven’t responded yet–I’ll be doing so tomorrow, and calling to specify a start date and things like that. This is definitely good news, and totally balances out my misplaced cellphone 2 weeks ago, the speeding ticket I got on the river road last Sunday as Julie and I were returning from watching Awa Odori in the city, and the snapped-in-half glasses the very next day.
So that’s been Life After Japan so far. Leaving was tough. I cried quite a bit. Yaemi and Terumi, two of my eikaiwa ladies, came to see me off at the bus station. Chalice, whose floor I’d crashed on, very kindly drove me there, but returned home after I told her to please not wait to see me off since we’d had a late night. My boss didn’t come out but she’d been out sick on Wednesday, so I figured she was still ill. My JTE had let me know that she’d be visiting relatives on the other side of the prefecture for Obon and couldn’t be there either. Honestly, the fewer people that came, the easiest it was for me.
The flights weren’t a big deal–I didn’t realize that I’d evidently paid extra for EconomyPlus seats on United Airlines, which give me considerably more legroom than standard economy seats, but if I had a choice I would totally pay it all over again (Hamza’s theory is that we’re paying extra to have the same amount of legroom we used to have, before they decided to cram in as many extra seats as possible). I had a tight connection in San Francisco, and was witness to two of the guards at the security checkpoint cracking stupid racist jokes (Guy A: “Hey, Steve, how do you say ‘strange’ in Japanese?” Guy B: pause, stupid grin, then random “oriental”-sounding word)–I gave them a really disgusted look, and I was unfortunately in too much of a hurry to call them on it. I speedwalked/jogged to the other end of the airport to make my flight, and got there after boarding had started, and got to sit next to a really kind and friendly lady from Austell–a far cry from the last time I had to sit next to an elderly woman when traveling.
I was feeling pretty exhausted and emotional when I got to Atlanta, but upon emerging from the T Gates and making my way towards the standard arrival lobby (for the rest of the concourses), I saw my parents, brother, and Laura waiting for me, with flowers and signs! That was a really pleasant surprise. I talked to Hamza later that night, who said that he’d also wanted to come out to greet me (meaning, he wanted to drive two hours from Auburn to Atlanta just for this) but didn’t know if I would want a more low-key homecoming or not. I love my friends.
My grandmother was at home waiting for me, as was a south Indian fresh home-cooked meal. I slept about 12 hours that night, and my sleep schedule has been kind of wonky ever since. I hope it’ll be more normal tonight.
So, okay, I’ll say it–I’m still in denial that my time in Japan is now over. I feel like this is yet another visit home, and honestly, it feels like it could be, since I’ve come to realize that I’ve seen my family twice a year during my Japan “tenure”. At the same time, I know it’s over, but I think the realization will really hit home once I start my new job and find a place and buy a car and take those steps to make my time here more permanent. I’m looking forward to moving forward, but not to the associated emotions that come with finally letting these past two years go.