A six hour plane ride later, I woke up in San Francisco, California.
My mom lives about 30 minutes outside of the city, in a tiny farming town on the coast. I’ve spent the last few days riding my bike along the cliffs that overlook the ocean and watching the surfers. During my bike rides, I see wild rabbits, deer, pelicans and owls. I see skateboarders, dog-walkers, joggers and people plodding along the sandy shoreline on horseback. And all around us are groves of eucalyptus trees.
A couple of days ago, I drove to Sacramento to see a friend. We met working on a cruise ship together last year. Our life stories are similar in that we both studied abroad in Germany, worked as Au Pairs in Europe and even lived in Salzburg, Austria at the same time (although we didn’t know each other back then). I like to think that perhaps we stood side by side at the same bar or momentarily bumped into each other on the streetcar, and just don’t remember. Maybe we even had a conversation. Salzburg is a small city. It’s certainly possible.
She’s also a bit of a lost soul…although as she puts it: “Not all those who wander are lost.” She left yesterday for an impulsive road trip across Europe and she has no idea what she’s going to do with her life when she returns to California; a fact that doesn’t seem to bother her much. I envy her for that.
I feel so rootless…and it’s driving me crazy. In the last two weeks, I’ve traveled through five cities and three countries. The past few mornings, I’ve woken up on a mattress on the floor in a cramped office in my mom’s house, surrounded by cardboard boxes and I catch myself momentarily longing to go ‘home’. And then I remember that I don’t really have one anymore. The house I called home since high school was rented out last summer.
In the next few days, I’ll be going to Los Angeles and then Las Vegas and then…back to Tokyo. I made the agonizing decision to go back. When I look around at how easy, how comfortable life is here in the States, I wonder if I’m insane. It’s so reassuring to walk into a bank and know immediately which forms to fill out, to walk the aisles of Rite Aid and find that familiar brand of shampoo. I can be confident with having conversations with complete strangers, secure with the knowledge that not only will the words I’m saying be understood, but the meaning behind them will as well. I won’t have to sensor or dumb down what I say. I won’t have to navigate around the cultural barrier block because there isn’t one.
And I’m going to trade that all in…for what? A life where I’ll be once again permanently glued to my Japanese English dictionary.
But I need to save money. And with the economy the way it is right now, Japan just seems like the best place to do that…right?