I’m home again for the holiday season, and it’s been so great to see my friends and family in person — to be able to touch them and hug them and just be in their presence makes me happy yet…something’s wrong.
Since my first step off the plane, into the so obviously Canadian Pearson airport in Toronto, I felt a strange feeling, and it wasn’t the nervous bubbles of excitement I expected. This was a heavy feeling, and I couldn’t understand it or explain it, so I brushed it off.
It’s been a long flight, I’m tired and I just need to see my family in person.
And when I did see them, of course I was thrilled, but like a heartbeat the feeling was still there, and I realized with disbelief that I missed Japan.
Whoa whoa whoa…what the hell? I just got here! And yeah, I like Japan, but I have my problems there too. How can I want to be in Japan more than I want to be in my home country, where I was born and raised and that holds all the people I love most?
How peculiar. I noticed this feeling the first time I went home as well, a few days after the Earthquake in March during the nuclear scare. At the time I thought it was simply stress and depression. I didn’t know if I would lose my job, and I didn’t know if it would be safe to go back. But here I am, home again, among the festivities of the holiday season, and despite all the food and games and hilarious conversation, in quiet moments of contemplation, the feeling expands like the lengthening shadows cast by a setting sun. And it was only recently that I was able to understand and put into words what I felt. It’s the driving force behind my move to Japan in the first place.
I’ve simply outgrown my old life.
If I could use one phrase to describe the feeling it would be, “boxed in”. And this feeling seems to ooze like sap from everything familiar here. Taking the train brings back old memories of going to work at a stressful job every day. Though my apartment in Tokyo is a minuscule studio, I don’t feel confined the way I do in my old room in my parent’s house. I love them and I’m grateful for the support they’ve given me, but I’m so over hearing, “wear your slippers! The floor is cold.” And, “You should drink more water, it’s good for you.” I wanna live in a world where I can prance around in barefooted glory. There’s something about being back that just feels depressingly mundane at times. The contrast between my codependent life in Canada, and the independence I have in Japan is so huge, it’s further confirmation that I’ve made a good choice.
It’s also once again brought to light a problem that stalks most expats: what do I do after Japan? If I don’t want to come back to this old life, then what’s the next new thing? (And there will be an after Japan, because although this country has its charms, I don’t want to stay here forever).
I’m curious to hear about what it’s been like for other expats going home. Did you too feel like you were “over” your home country? Or was your reunion all sunshine and rainbows and joy?