Lisa and I woke up early to fit in one last workout before getting on the plane. Once we’d showered and eaten, the three of us took the bus back to Narita Airport to begin our journey home. Airport security in Japan is much more civilized than in America – I got to keep my shoes and hoodie on and no ridiculous pat downs or body scanners. The only real hiccup, if it can be called that, is when the customs agent got confused by my passport. I have two visas from my previous stays in Japan and have been in and out of the country several times. The customs agent kept trying to scan my visas, before finally figuring out that I was just visiting this time.
Leaving Japan always makes me a little sad. It has to do with the fact that I’m never sure when or whether I’ll be back. Coming on this trip was such a gift, an unexpected surprise and I wondered if an opportunity like this will ever come my way again. This feeling reminded me of a conversation E and I had over winter break. We talked about how lucky we’ve been in life, how the best things just kind of fell into our laps. Japan was one of those things – neither one of us put down a preference for region/location on our JET application and yet somehow, we ended up in the perfect spot and met each other. For two people who have such specific dreams and visions, we can be awfully fatalistic. If there is anything we have learned over the last year and a half, it’s that we don’t want to leave one of our dreams – a life together in San Francisco – to chance, and that at some point, you just have to start going after what you want (which we’re good at) and not settling for anything less (which we’re working on). I have so many connections in Japan now – both personal and professional – and all I have to do is buy a plane ticket and go. It felt good to have a little faith in the relationship and I took heart in the fact that I could make Japan happen again.
When we finally got settled on the plane (I managed to leave my jacket in the lobby and had to run back and get it), Allison mentioned how good it was to be going home. I got an uneasy feeling as she said this and I realized that I had been half expecting to get off the plane in California. It felt weird to be leaving a foreign country to return to a place that is, in many ways, still so foreign to me (please remember that when I first moved to CT, I often referred to “going back to CA” as “going back to America”). In fact, I have spent more time in Japan than I have in Connecticut and so I found myself in this surreal loop of leaving a home that was not my home to return to a home that was not my home. It was all becoming too complicated, so I decided to brainwash myself with Here Comes the Boom, which I tried to make up for by catching up on New Yorkers. I also watched a Japanese movie about a women’s tug-o-war team and a documentary on modern day geisha in Kyoto.
I wasn’t able to sleep much and so I walked off the plane pretty exhausted. Lisa, Allison and I all said our goodbyes and then we parted ways – they back to Connecticut and me into Manhattan to meet up with Clay, just to say hi, and then ultimately Lindsay for her bachelorette party.