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Tuesday, July 25

The Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday morning we awoke to face a brand new chapter in our lives. We placed our final things into our luggage, checked ourselves out of the Embassy Suites and found a cab to take us to the airport. As we drove there, the cab driver mentioned that we must be going away for some time with the amount of luggage we had. (Is eight bags really abnormal for two people?!)

"Yes, to Japan," we tell him.

"Do you know someone there?" he asks.


"Have you been there before?"


"Do you even speak the language?"

"Another negative."

And thus began the moment of my intense shock. How could I have made such a hasty decision.

But hasty it wasn't. We had thought about this and rehashed it in a million different ways and on so many different days. To hear a cab driver ask such basic questions and us respond with such ridiculous negatives... we were really starting to question our own judgement. And perhaps our sanity.

As the plane took off and Washington and Alexandria disappeared out of our window, everything became pretty blank. I didn't cry like I thought I would. I did get, well... anything. Just a big fat nothing. Where was the big emotion that leaving was supposed to invoke?! I barely cried saying goodbye to my friends and family. I just felt so flat everytime I heard those words. I had a few outbursts but they were always when I was alone and when nothing was really happening to set them off. Maybe keeping myself so busy the last week erased what emotions should have been there. Maybe I was just a cold bitch like I always feared I was deep inside. I couldn't grasp what my problem was.

DC to Chicago and then Chicago to Tokyo. Before the trip, I kept thinking that the flight would be difficult but not unreasonable. Kimono Hubby was dreading it much more than myself from day one. In the end, he slept and I tried without much success. I drugged myself. I drank. I did everything I could to knock myself out. But all I had was that constant flat feeling.

I made my first Japanese faux pas on the plane. I forgot the cardinal rule that the Japanese don't get sarcasm. I made some stupid crack about having so much space to eat in and all I got was a very blank stare from an older Japanese gentleman. I'm pretty sure he understood what I said and it wasn't the language thing. He just didn't find it funny. How am I supposed to survive without sarcasm? Poor KH is going to drown in it at home if that is the case.

We arrive in Japan and I have only slept less than two hours of the fifteen hour flight. We are bleary eyed and extremely stiff but excitement is starting to quell somewhere way down deep. The weather is very gray. Almost threatening us. It is rainy season here. How could I have forgotten that? They don't call it typhoon season for fun.

We go to get in the car and KH tries to get in on the passenger side. We have already forgotten that that would now be the driving side. This will take some getting used to and we are likely to be laughed at for awhile.

It is another three hours of a drive to the base. We head through Tokyo, Yokohama and then the countryside outside of the city. The city skylines we only see from a distance. The highway takes you through the very industrial part of the both cities. But they seem to hold so much promise and adventure nonetheless. Everything looks so clean and modern. Cars are small but look more American than I was expecting. There seem to be a ton of mini-minivans. (My heart is sold! I never wanted a soccer mom vehicle but these mini-minis are so damn adorable!)

Out of the city and approaching the base, the surroundings change to lush greenery. As if we just landed on some tropical island. We are told that it is pretty much like this all year round and that only some trees actually lose their leaves. I can only imagine how beautiful winter will be. Houses are built on what look like impossible mountain sides. One can only begin to guess how roads reach these homes.

We pass through toll booths and when the window opens, I hear something similar to a locust. As we head deeper into the wooded surroundings, it gets louder and louder... like the 17-year cicadas back home. Almost like these tiny insects are greeting us and saying, "see? We aren't that very different, America and I!" The trees that they live in are small and remind me of enlarged bonsai trees. Did someone actually come out and shape these or has God really created the perfect tree in nature? I keep looking for Mr. Miyagi to be hanging from a tree with big clippers.

We arrive at the main gate and get our first tour of the base and it is so much larger than I expected. I already have no idea which way is out. All I know is that our new hotel home is located directly on the Tokyo Bay! Sure it is just another waterfront... but one on the opposite side of the world! In Japan!

I think I am going to throw up now. No, seriously.

We get checked in and head to our room. Once the bags are off the carrier, we realize one is missing. Of course it is mine. We have to call our driver back as we are certain that it is still in her back seat. Our first mini argument in our new home but it quickly subsides as we both know that it is just exhaustion and shock talking.

I sit down on the bed and look around. A big deer in the headlights kind of look. That is how you could have described me. I didn't feel strong or brave or adventerous. I felt stupid. Horribly, horribly stupid. And sick. I have never felt a sick like this... like something is stuck in your throat and is strung the whole way into your stomach. Nothing came come up or down.

Except a sob.

At first, Kimono Hubby has no idea how to comfort me. As I sit there sobbing harder and harder, all I can think about is how badly I want to go home. How I hope this is some terrible dream. Kimono Hubby kisses my tears off my eyes and cheeks and tells me that everything will be okay. He's scared too but we are together and we are ready for this. It takes a while but the sobs and hiccuping do subside. I am still absolutely shell shocked. But I am headed back to the flatness. I guess I finally had that moment.

This is what happens when you bottle it up inside of you and don't show your true feelings to anyone. For the past month, I feel like that is all I have been doing. Hiding. Not because I thought I would look weak or be made fun of. It just did it. I'm still working out why I handled moving this way. I still have a lot to learn about who I am.

I called my mom ever though it was about 4 in the morning her time. I just needed her. She didn't hear the phone because of the obvious sleep. But she called back a few hours after I passed out. It made me feel so much better just to hear her voice. I called again in our morning time and got to speak to her for some time. She made everything right with the world. I was feeling stronger again. She always knows just what to say.

And then dad got on the phone. And he made me cry again. He said that now that I am in Japan, be IN Japan. And that they will be there when I come home. What a wreck I was again! I just isn't that easy yet.

Once I calmed down, he also told me that every country has a smell and asked me what Japan smelled like. Well, either my nose is broken or it is just that the base smells just like home because I couldn't answer. But he's been here before. He should know what the hell it smells like.

It is now Tuesday. I have been here two and a half days and I am feeling almost completely back to normal. I'm very excited again. Still exhausted but I just need to keep fighting the jet lag. We met Kimono Hubby's new work family so far and had our first orientation. We even spent a little time looking at cars this afternoon and think we almost have ours picked out.

This is going to be great! As strong as I fell my marriage is, I am absolutely certain that this will make it even more wonderful. Not to mention all the other multitude of other benefits to living here.

The Japanese may call this the Land of the Rising Sun (which by the way, Japan... 4:30 am sunrise is a little ridiculous, don't you think??) but I call this the Land of the Rising Opportunites.

And I'm so happy to be here.


Anonymous said...

Ah man - big lump in my throat and blurry vision right now. I'm so happy for you and proud I had something to do with this huge adventure! LOL Miss you - love you! Keep on typing, can't wait to read more!

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for you and glad that the emotional roller coaster is starting to even out. You are going to have the best adventures and stories!

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