After 16 months of west of the International Dateline, I took a three week trip back to the Bay Area for the holidays. I thought that the concept of “same, same, but different” was a SE Asia thing, but I can’t think of a better way to describe my trip home. I had psyched myself up for all the changes that my friends and family have made and steeled myself against the reality that their lives would not include me in the same way anymore. I was ready for what I knew would be different, but I was utterly unprepared for all the things that were the same. I was shocked at how easily we all slipped back into our old roles and routines, that there was still a place for me.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I thought I would. I thought I’d want to capture every little detail, every nuance of my experience so that I could take the memories with me and dole them out as I needed to during these last eight months. Instead I found that the memories are already so etched in my heart, in so much more detail than could be captured on film, that it seemed silly to photograph them.
It was really good to see everyone, and I regret missing those that I did, but I do think that the flurry of activity I kept up while at home distracted me from the reality of where I was. While I felt some reverse culture shock, it wasn’t what I expected it to be – most of the time it just felt like I was out of practice, rather than genuinely in shock. I don’t think the implications of coming home, and then going back yet again, really hit me until I was already back in Japan. Suddenly, when I had finally stopped moving, the catharsis I had been trying to prepare myself for happened.
Though I slacked off on the picture-taking, I did keep up with my journals. I’ve started putting them up online. Right now I’ve only got three up, but I’ll be posting the rest hopefully by the end of this week (and by “end of this week,” I mean “end of this seven day period beginning today”). You can read them here.