Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Forward to the Past

If flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo is going back to the future, flying the opposite direction is going forward to the past.

Although it's only noon as I type this, I left Tokyo late this afternoon, wrapped in kinmokusei fragrance, feeling both light and melancholy at the same time.

My little nephew wouldn't kiss/hug me goodbye. At five, he was already too "depressed" about my leaving! He is so much like me, it's scary. Once, when the family was talking loudly about their phone ("The phone's broken!" "No it's not! It's the connection!" "But the buttons on the handset get stuck…" "It's the cable internet interfering!") he got really upset.

"Stop fighting!" he begged, wide-eyed and scared.

He's so sensitive to other people's emotions. A little argument affects him like a huge fight. Unfortunately, I'm a bit like that, too, although I try to suppress it. Big Dog gets upset quite frequently -- I don't think it's as big of a deal to him as it sounds to me, because it really sounds like he is upset in a Major Way when he rants and curses -- and each time, there's a knot in my stomach. I know it's just the way he is and wish it didn't affect me as much as it does. I was always secretly amazed and envious of staff who could go on without any of this affecting them the way it did me. "I must learn to stay calm like them," I'd think, but I never did. Each outburst still grinds down on me like walls caving in. So I understood poor Pupster's sadness and was sorry I couldn't really do anything about it except to promise him that I'd be back soon. How soon is soon enough for a five year old, though?

It's also been a long time since I've seen my mother so stressed out and unhappy, but as the days went by, she looked better and better. I just hope she can maintain the equilibrium for a while. It hurts not to be able to make things better for someone you love.

She, too, put on a brave face today, but when it got near time to leave, she got a bit teary eyed and it made my eyes well up, too.

All in all, though, it was a Very Good Visit. Reunions were filled with laughter and good vibes, I had a wonderful eat-a-thon this trip, unlike my last, and, most of all, I got to spend time with my family. These are what I miss most about not being in Japan: my family, my friends and the food. Maybe those are the ONLY things I miss! (OK, the ultra high-speed internet was really, really awesome!)

Best of all was that I was able to reaffirm why I was no longer in Japan. I don't need or want the work or the recognition or any of the frills and thrills that went along with my past life. I'm happy to be far, far away from the oppressive commercialism, the density, the less-than-perfect climate. Yes, Tokyo is a vibrant, exciting city. It has it's own wonderful energy, but as I walked around the familiar streets, I saw that that energy comes from money changing hands. When you live there, you get used to the soul crushing consumerism and just accept it, but once out, you realize how terribly unhealthy it is.

So, it was The Perfect Homecoming. I could have stayed a little longer, but it's better to leave while the leaving's good. You don't want to get too full, right? Nor do you want its seductive Siren song to drag you back down.

It's warm and sunny here in Santa Monica. And my smile is as wide as the blue sky.


Blogger Marti said...

Hi Carole,

I just got back from Tokyo too.. I only spent a week, I also went back to Canada (From Australia) When I read your writing it really expresses the way I feel too.. Alas If I could only express myself as well as you do..


Martin Belson

2:37 AM  

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