Home, Sweet Home

At the end of July, I traveled with my family to the US for two weeks, mainly to visit relatives and old friends. By the time I got back last Wednesday, I was so tired from my vacation that I needed a few days to recover. I wonder how restorative a vacation can be when you need to recover from it afterward, but I've been feeling very motivated since Monday, and I'm getting a lot of work done, so I guess that in the end I did recharge my batteries.

June marked the 10th anniversary of my latest move to Japan. During that time, a lot of things have happened in the US that I haven't been around to experience: the dot-com crash, 9/11, the erosion of civil liberties, the disaster of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the housing crash and banking crisis.

Los Angeles was as crazy as ever, and my native San Francisco seemed even more crowded, expensive, and frenetic than the last time I visited. One relative, who has never been outside the US, asked how I liked living in Japan, following up with, "but of course you agree that America is the greatest country in the world."

Maybe it's a sign of being the best country on Earth that you've got to pass through a metal detector to get into an amusement park, and the guards there pass metal-detector wands over baby carriages, while armed police patrol the park. It felt more like going into lockdown than a pleasant outing. But what would I know — after all, I don't live there. 🙂

I'll risk being thought unpatriotic, however, to admit that it was a relief to get back to dear, sleepy Okinawa, where strangers greet you on the street, cars slow down to let you over instead of speeding up to cut you off, and nobody talks politics — not because it's taboo, but simply because they're not interested.

2 comments to Home, Sweet Home

  • Welcome back, Ryan. Now I know the reason for the deafening silence here the last few days 🙂
    I can well understand your sense of relief. I have been in Japan for 25 years now, and I have mixed feelings each time I return to India. I love the food, the friends, the smells, the fruits, flowers, and animals (in no particular order) back home, but when I return I like the peace here, especially on the roads where nobody honks!

  • Great post, Ryan, and interesting perspective on living in two cultures (well, mainly one of you). I feel the same way when I go back and forth between the US, where I have lived since I was a teenager, Austria, where I was born, and Mexico City, where I grew up. I am sometimes confused as to where I belong, and independently of the direction I go in terms of crossing the Atlantic, it’s always hard to adjust. That said, America is the greatest country in the world (wink, wink). It’s always funny when people who haven’t left the country say that (your relative). That said, I am applying for dual citizenship, but I could do without metal detectors at amusement parks (which I luckily don’t frequent). Glad to hear the return to Japan went well. I’ve never been, and would love to go!

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