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Monday, January 1

Blink, Blink… And Another Christmas Is Gone

We’re back in Japan and I know I never did write like I said I would. I planned on it! But when it came right down to it, I was usually visiting with family and friends, too jet lagged at other times, too sick at others and just too plain brain dead in any leftover time.

To give you an idea of the travel itself… we left our house in Japan at 6:30 am on December 21st. Adding all the driving time, waiting in airport time and flying time (13 hours total), we arrived in Massachusetts in just under a 24 hour trip. Thanks to the genius of time zones, that calculated out to be a 3:30 pm arrival time on the same day we left, 12/21. That can mess with a person’s mind. I was so very sick the whole way and exactly the kind of person you dread having to sit next to on the plane. Although the rude, little Korean lady in our row of seats didn’t seem to mind when she stole my own personal neck pillow to nap on… the neck pillow I brought to hold my head up straight so the snot would not accumulate to heartily in my head in bouts of unconsciousness. I went to the bathroom and returned to find her with it securely under her head and laying down across her own and Kimono Hubby’s seat, hear feet up the wall of the plane and taking a nap. First of all, I was totally grossed out because I can’t stand touching things that other people have touched on the plane so I brought my own pillow and blanket – especially needed with my illness. Second, I hadn’t the energy to do anything about it and sat there whimpering for twenty minutes until I finally got up and walked back to KH who was stretching and talking with others doing the same and whined loudly and repeatedly about how she stole my pillow until he came up and took it from under her head. He was my hero!

Upon arriving in the States, we said our hellos and then stretched out for a nice long cat nap. The jet lag was already doing its number. Later in the week, we were told what horrible company we were because we were so off our times, generally going to bed at midnight and waking up at 3:30 am. I’d like to see anyone else try that trip and not do the same. Do you have any idea what a combo of exhaustion and insomnia feel like?

The time in Massachusetts was wonderful though. On our first day there, I was escorted to the mall I had missed for so long so I could replenish on several items I needed. I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and truly thought I had died and gone to heaven even if it made me really sick later that night. We had dinner at a friend’s house (Cornish hens – delicious! – even after some difficulty in the kitchen) and on the drive there discovered we had forgotten that we no longer carry any insurance in the U.S., essentially ending any further trips planned unless someone was willing to drive us to our destinations. The food on this leg of the trip was enough to make me want to never leave the U.S. again. We spent Christmas day quietly at home (topped with the cherry of a prime rib dinner)… the perfect last day in Massachusetts.

The next morning, another flight brought us to Pennsylvania and more family and friends. More food and more shopping. I met my niece for the first time as she was born not long after we moved to Japan. I also met one of my best friend’s little girls who also entered the world not long after we left. My parent’s house was inundated with people at all hours. Even though my exhaustion was nearly killing me, I refused to miss a moment of it and just kept going. Both KH and I were blessed with friends who made the trip up from DC and other not so close locales to Pennsylvania just to see us for a few hours. Just the thought of those visits from our busy family and friends will fulfill me for a long time to come. They were the best presents I could have asked for.

In the blink of an eye, the time had all passed and we were sadly back on the road to another long trip, this one just over 24 hours of travel time. San Francisco almost ensnared us when our flight came in late, and boarding time for our flight to Tokyo had already begun. Not a soul would help us get a faster shuttle and we heard the final boarding call while we were only just entering the international gates. With a final run for it and an intense wheezing from me causing one woman to voice her concern and check if I was going to be okay, we were the last passengers to arrive on the flight. We will never fly through San Francisco again. At least this time the woman in our row was Japanese was very kind even though the conversation was limited. She never once stole my pillow and even offered for me to lay my head down in the empty seat between us. Fearing germs, I didn’t but the offer was a generous one.

I’m so happy to be home but also so sad to be missing the other home. It sounds like I left a legacy of sickness in the path behind me. For anyone that caught my Japanese cold, consider it yet another foreign present that I shared with you and maybe it won’t seem so bad.

And for the little ones who decided to share the flu with me to bring back to Japan… thanks. That was just what I wanted for Christmas.

Hope all of you had a great Christmas! It’s just about 4 a.m. now and I need to try to force myself back to sleep so tomorrow I can tell you all about New Years Eve in Japan!


Mike S said...

Now you know why I detested flying back to the US from there. I had to go at least as far as CA every 60 days for meetings etc. It wasn't as bad from Europe, but the trip from Japan & back over a 1 week period was a killer, especially when going to head office in the DC area. Wish I'd known you were in Mass, might've tried to send ya one of our famous Maine lobstahs. Get some rest, you'll need it as more touring, teaching, and arranging await.

kuroirodo said...

i know it is hard to travel about 15 hrs, i went to japan, but to be my first time, i was very happy and exited about the entire fly..., and the returning was good too. but maybe because i sleept almos 8 hrs in the fly, i havent notice anything anoying... (sorry for my english)...i know what it feels being on diferent time, and when i came back to my home (Ensenada, BC, Mexico) i sleept for like 2 days...
just want to say something...
happy 2007...

Kimono Karen said...

As much as I hated the flight and don't see it ever getting any easier, we're planning on doing it again in the spring. What can I say... I love my fam and friends and love to be with them and can honestly say they are *mostly* worth the grueling 15-hour flight. :)