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Wednesday, July 9


I am back in Japan. I have been for over a week now. On the first day after my return, I wrote out one of my usual, long “to-do” lists. Of course, blog the trip was on the list and yet here is has been a week and a half and I haven’t done so. It wasn’t that it was less important that other to-dos. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the time. As the first day of skipping that number on the list, it quickly came to be a week later. Of course, with a week comes a lot of guilt. Guilt that I haven’t been more active with my writing. Guilt that I haven’t done every item on the to-do list yet. Guilt that I know there are many that are wondering why I haven’t written. And with the guilt that continued to mount, I wanted less and less to return to blog writing. And then I chatted with a friend in London the other day. It was her words that reminded me that this blog was started not only to keep up with others, but also as my own personal journal. As this is my personal outlet, I absolutely shouldn’t feel guilty that I haven’t written yet. She said I should write when I want to. With her absolve, it took only finding the time then to return to writing.

Not that I have been incredibly busy or anything. Since my return, my time has truly been my own. I have lounged. I have worked. I have done. But all when I wanted to… never once stopping myself if I felt like wasting an entire afternoon re-watching whole seasons of the Gilmore Girls. Let me not bore you with details on my favorite Loralie dialog and instead flashback to a few weeks ago.

Our flight home wasn’t bad. Not great, but not bad. I’m trying hard to forget the extra 45 minutes on top of the 14 hour flight after we arrived at Dulles where we circled the airport in the air waiting for a storm to pass, or the 40 minutes after touching the ground where we sat on the runway with the engines and the air turned off in the plane while waiting for them to reopen the airport, or the 25 minutes I spent waiting on the passenger van to take me to the airport exits. Oh, Dulles. How you madden me. My mom and cousin picked me up at the airport after having their own harrowing experiences as neither are very good on a highway, especially one a mere 20 miles from a major city. Even thought exhausted and not ready for being back on the right side of the road, I took over the driving to get us the two hours north to my parent’s place in Pennsylvania.

My parent’s place in the summer. Honestly, it is one of my favorite places in the world. Perhaps it is the memories, but it doesn’t hurt that tucked so deeply into the woods that few living in the immediate area even know there is a house back in there. Our own private nature preserve. The driveway is literally all about the lyrics - “over a river and through the woods.” Down the long gravel and dirt road, crossing clanging bridges and a daily used train track along the way, a last big turn and steep hill will bring you to their house surrounded by century’s old towering trees that express the ancestry of the area. It isn’t odd to pass bunnies, chipmunks, deer and even a fox or coyote while on the driveway to the house. Once there… you reach quiet. Maybe the moan of the lawn mower as my dad works his way around the yard, but usually quiet. My first days there always mean that my time schedule is going to be way off. No matter how late I stay up, I will wake up before dawn. I don’t fight it anymore. Instead, I go outside and sit in the murky darkness, listening to the near silence with only the whir of a few bats in the air to break it. As the sun comes up, I get to experience the exact moment when the earth comes awake. The bats go to sleep and the first bird will chirp out a single tune, followed only moments after by his thousands of friends with happy answers. There is a swing that my dad placed to look out over the hill, which is the best spot in the house for the show. It never fails to disappoint.

My parent’s are night owls, so I don’t normally see them before 10 in the morning. Sometimes mom would get up earlier, as she tries to do when I am in town. She wouldn’t want to lose out on even a single moment of my time while there. It’s such a loving gesture. Once we get moving, we say a quick goodbye to my dad and head out for our favorite activity… shopping. And this time we had a little boy to buy for, making it even more fun! We went to the two stores where I am keeping a registry and added a few items, buying many others. We went to places of normalcy, which I miss so much, like Target and Kohls where I could buy a few could buy a few clothing items for my growing self. We ate at all my favorites… Olive Garden, the local pizza joint Genova’s (twice actually)… places where I was able to satisfy a craving or two. We spent a second day shopping for my mom who is in the process of redoing her living room. We picked out carpet and wall fixtures and curtains. Anther day we spent getting ready for a shower that my sister-in-law and mom had planned for the upcoming weekend. We cleaned and grocery shopped and got the menu and prizes together. My mother-in-law and her aunt arrived on Friday morning for the shower so we got some time with my other family. Kimono Hubby flew in late that night to join us from the training that he was attending stateside, but not in the vicinity. It was a wonderfully full house. On Saturday, things only got better.

You know, I still believe my wedding day to be the best day of my life. Of course, it is because I married my best friend and love of my life, but it is also because it was the one day in my life where I had everyone I loved and cared about in one room. There is no time in a person’s life that that will ever happen again. Both sides of the family and all friends are there. The days that run the closest to that perfect day are shower days – wedding and baby. The only downside is that the male counterparts aren’t there as they run from fear on this day. Even my dad hid outside of the house all day, spending time only with KH and one other brave husband as they watched over the kids. Still, I had all these women I love and who love me in one place. The shower was beautiful, with the most considerate and thoughtful touches created by my sister-in-law. The favor was a piggy bank wrapped inside of a diaper shaped into a bowl, topped with shoestring candy to look like noodles and Swedish fish… a nod to the baby’s Japanese origins… next to a basket of diapers rolled up like towels in Japanese fashion. There were hanging signs made of stamped diapers to announce the shower. There was a diaper cake and games that made everyone think and everyone laugh. But it was the fact all of these women whom I love and love me were back in the same room that made it so truly perfect. Their gifts brought tears to my eyes. In place of cards (overpriced as they are today), books were given with the kindest sayings written in them. If there is one thing about me that most know, it is my love for reading. I can’t believe I already have this magical library built for my little boy. I’ve already started reading them to him. At the end of the day, friends and family slowly trickled out, leaving me in sadness and yet pure happiness. I can’t believe my luck to be blessed with these people in my life.

The next day was the hardest of the trip, because it was then that I had to say goodbye to my family. My mom and I drove my mom-in-law, aunt and husband to the airport where the first goodbyes occurred. From there, mom and I drove on south to Washington, DC where I was to meet up with the friend I would be staying with for the remaining week stateside. We chose Tysons Mall to meet at because it gave mom and I more time on our own doing one of our favorite things, but also because it is the safest place for her to drive home from… using all the back roads north. After a long afternoon and lunch, it was time for her to get on the road. The hardest part of the trip was watching my mom say goodbye through her fast-flowing tears. It hurts me to know that she hurts so much from my time away. While she has never held me back from these faraway ambitions that I have always had, it is impossible for her to pretend that they don’t matter either. I still had a week to go stateside and she wouldn’t be able to see me. Even calls every night were not enough to curb some of those tears. It’s truly hard to hurt your mom unintentionally while fulfilling the life of your dreams… and something I will never be able to brush aside lightly.

My next week was a lovely one too. My girlfriend and her husband took me in and made sure I had a beautiful and comfortable room to sink into every night. My swollen feet that worsened with each day because of flying, cars and being up on them too long were nursed back to health by both these loving souls, who made me feel like I was more than a guest in their home… that I was family and welcome anytime and for any length of time. Of course, there was more shopping, more eating and more hanging out. There even was more showering! My closest friends in Virginia pulled together a lovely and intimate shower for me on one of the nights. The food was delicious. The punch was to die for. But the company, overwhelming in its love and support. I have always worried that when I finally decided to take this next step into adulthood and be a mom, that I would lose friends because I would no longer be the fun party girl. The girl who is always ready for a night out, even if the call comes in after 10 pm. The girl who is always there for them. I still want to be that girl, but I know that it will definitely change after the baby gets here. But these friends… I think they will be there for me… through these life changes and much, much longer.

Then after two weeks of hanging out and catching up, it was time to meet KH back at Dulles and return to Japan. Usually, I am so ready for this return. Our trips stateside are all too often fast and furious, where we run around to so many places that our heads spin so hard, we are deliriously ready to return to the paces of our regular lives. This trip wasn’t like that. Both at my parent’s and at my girlfriend’s, I had a comfortable and quiet place to retreat to every night. It was like home. The only thing I missed was not having my husband by my side. On that count alone, I was ready return to his side. If that meant Japan, so be it.

And now we are back. He’s back to work. I’m back to my life with my first Ikebana class in over a month coming up at the end of this week. Life is good.

I’ll be back into the swing of writing soon. Well, maybe. Japan has increasing humidity every day, which does keep me somewhat hibernated in the house with the air conditioning. Pregnancy and humidity equals the death of me. The death of me equals less traveling around and experiencing Japanese culture. But I shall do my best… on the cooler days.

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