urouro suru hito

I mentioned the other day that I really missed my mom for the first time since coming to Japan. The thought of seeing and talking to her again inspired a heart-skipping-knot-in-throat-forming desperation that made me want to return home as quickly as possible. In my imaginings I had barely made it to the door when the thought of leaving my host family left me with that same desperate feeling and stopped me dead in my tracks. I don’t think it’s possible for me to love my host family in the same way that I love my real family, but I think that I have created ties here that I have come to value very much. I can’t say that I’ve experienced what people might traditionally call homesickness, since I don’t pine for a particular place. I miss people, but in truth, I have no desire to go “home.” Perhaps it’s part of being a college student, but I don’t feel like there is one place that I’m attached to anyway – no one place where I feel satisfied and relieved when I get there.

As corny as this sounds, in the same way that some people are called to a religious life, I was called to Japan. I felt an inexplicable longing to come here and believed that if I did, I might somehow become more whole. I envy Austin as it seems that what I hoped would be my homecoming has become his. I love Japan and am enjoying my time here and I know I will return one day, but already I have grown restless. My thoughts turn to Greece…England…France…South Africa…Peru…Australia. But I know that I won’t find “home” in those places either.

One day I want to live on a boat and sail from place to place, doing research, sightseeing, learning new languages and cultures. I had never imagined that it would be permanent, but I wonder if I am destined to drift around looking for that perfect place forever. Today we learned a new phrase in class – “urourosuru” – which basically means “to wander around.” I have begun to envision myself as Juliette Binoche in “Chocolat,” wandering from place to place driven by the North Wind – an “urourosuru hito.”

I suspect that a self-help author would tell me that I won’t find what I’m looking for outside of myself and that “home is where I make it.” Perhaps my home is wherever the people I have formed strong attachments to are, and in reality I am lucky to call so many places home. Maybe I am not “the woman of no tribe” but “the woman of all tribes (sorry for the obscure reference that no one reading this will get).” I just don’t feel like I really belong somewhere yet. But that could just be teen angst finally catching up with me.

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