Friday, November 22, 2013


I am so happy to be home.

The highlights:
  • Visiting family, friends and pups.  There were some sad moments--wondering what can be done about a homeless uncle and hoping that I'll get to see my older relatives again--but it has been so wonderful to interact with people who know me as more than an attorney and play with my dogs. All of this has put the terrible loneliness of the last year in sharp relief, but I'm trying not to focus on that because... well, what does that accomplish?
  • Speaking English. It's such a luxury to be able to talk to strangers or ask store clerks questions.
  • Soaking up sunlight. My first day back I sat in the direct sun with my eyes closed for about 20 minutes being reminded what it feels like when sun warms your skin.
  • Shopping for food.  I've taken some leisurely strolls through the grocery store--lingering in the produce section to appreciate the sheer variety and reasonable prices--and cooked up a storm while I've been home.  I've missed my fully equipped kitchen something fierce so it was great fun to try the recipes I've been flagging for the last 12 months.
  • Enjoying wide open spaces.  So happy to have a break from the concrete jungle!
  • Catching up on doctor's appointments.  My FSA and insurance have gotten a workout.  I also picked up some Lutein supplements.  The Lutein helps with central vision.  There's a back story here: I have a grandparent suffering from macular degeneration.  Treatment, which has stymied but not improved the condition, has involved a drug injected into the eye ball.  (Yes, you read that right.)  Without knowing about this family history, my eye doctor mentioned that my blue eyes, fair skin, and Southern California upbringing put me at risk but that the condition is considered fully preventable by wearing sunglasses and consuming a diet rich in Lutein (spinach, kale or collard greens).  Since my work schedule sometimes makes it tough to access fresh greens, I picked up the Lutein supplements just in case.
  • Sleeping in a cozy bed.  My mattress is in storage, but the bed in the guest room I've been staying in is so comfortable.  It's a welcome change from the stiff-as-a-board mattress in the apartment in Tokyo.
  • Ignoring my blackberry.  The firm has mostly left me alone, but requested that I do some work on a non-billable project that has no deadline.  This irked me as I received (and fulfilled) a similar request during my last and only other vacation in the three years I've been at the firm.  This time I replied that I would be happy to do this work when I returned from my vacation.  We'll see if there are any consequences.
  • Ignoring an email from Ben asking to see me.  When I was considering whether to accept the secondment, Ben disengaged entirely.  It was an important moment for him to speak-up about his intentions for the future and he failed to communicate.  Did I want to move back to Austin and live with him?  Yes.  Did I want him to finally make good on all his talk about wanting to marry me?  Yes.  But he said nothing.  I'm not going to give up a good job opportunity (no matter how hard that opportunity promises to be or no matter how much I would rather just come home), if he's unwilling to act like a grown man and have a conversation about our future.  So this is why I was unwilling to cut family time short.  His request to see me said nothing about discussing our future.  Frankly, I think he just wanted to get together to hook up.
On a more positive note, it's amazing how much stress melts away when you're back in your home culture where you know what's expected and can speak the language.  I don't think I fully appreciated how much energy I've been spending observing people closely and trying to conform.  While Japan is a wonderful place and I realize I've been privileged to work abroad, it's not home and I'll never fit in there.  It's nice to have a break.

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