A month ago today, we left our home in Japan to return to the United States. It has been a period of adjustment that I think will continue for quite some time.
We’ve been trying to focus on the positives, starting with getting reacquainted with our house and turning it back into our home. Our daughter did a good job taking care of it while we were away. We’ve spent the last month arranging and rearranging, cleaning out old things we no longer have a use for, painting, updating, and just settling in. Nice to have a big, full kitchen. Quiet evenings outside on the deck… listening to the tree frogs. We are back together again with our three cats… nice to have pets again! It is really starting to feel more like home.
For me, my job continues much as it was in Japan. I still work (virtually) with my colleagues in Tokyo, and also with our offices in London, Paris and Moscow. The really different part is the mental adjustment from being in the Japan time zone hours ahead of everyone else, to being in US Eastern time, hours behind everyone else. Virtual meetings that were in the evenings in Tokyo are now in the very early morning. Beyond the inconvenience and sleep disruption, there is just the disconcerting feeling of thinking in reverse about what time of day others are in. A feeling kind of like trying to write left-handed… it just seems awkward.
For my wife, it is a little more like being in limbo. She gave up her job in healthcare to go to Japan. And right now, for obvious reasons, it is not a great time to be looking for a new job in the healthcare field. There is still plenty of work to do with the house, and… at least… we are secluded together.
More difficult are the uncertainties of the times. COVID-19, and all the restrictions, concerns and worries associated with it… not being able to go places and do the things we want to, and not being able to easily visit with friends and family who are again living in the same city. We have come home to a dysfunctional, corrupt US government. The country feels so different from what we remember when we left in 2016. The changes are disturbing, and there seem to be no real solutions in sight.
Perhaps the hardest thing for us, however, has been saying goodbye to a very special time. We wake up thinking of our home in Tokyo, or at random times we think about or remember something from our Tokyo life. We miss walking along the canals… we miss our favorite places, or miss riding the trains and subways around the city… even just walking along the streets of our neighborhood in Shibaura. Looking back, the four-and-a half years in Japan were some of the best times of our lives. We experienced so much… and learned so much. There were difficulties and frustrations, but it was a time and a place that we shared together, and fell in love with. The time went by so incredibly fast.
So, a month into the next chapter of our lives, we are still adapting. Some days are better than others. We are so fortunate to be healthy and comfortable.
They say that time is a great healer. If that is true, one day we’ll be able to look back on our time in Japan, and feel less of the sadness of what is over, and more of the joy of that very special time in our lives.