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I know it’s been a long time since I’ve done any regular posting, but honestly, it’s been a little tough around here the past while. It’s now been 15 days since I came back to Japan. I went back home for Christmas/New Year and stayed 3 weeks to make the exorbitant cost of the flights justifiable. 

 

The time at home was a blur. Apart from Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, there wasn’t a single day that I didn’t have two or more appointments. By appointments, I mean things to do. With other people. Like lie on their couch and eat cheese. 
After five months in Japan, it was strange to be back. Little things, like being able to understand menus (a great thing), tv (not such a good thing) and overheard conversations (definitely not a good thing) were odd at first. I found the level of English I had to listen to and speak on a daily basis to be slightly overwhelming. It took about a week to get back into the swing of normal conversation. 
Not that much of the conversation was normal. Everyone just wanted to know about Japan and I found myself erasing all the bad things and raving about the good things. I told the same stories over and over until I bored myself. Nobody wants to know about the loneliness, or the spates of boredom, or the wondering why the hell I ever came to this godforsaken country. All these things pass though, and at the end of it, I do like being here. So I talked about that. 
There were things I had forgotten that I missed. Just the general, everyday banter you have with strangers. Like, for example, I was in a garage, buying gas and a coffee with a friend, talking about these boots I had bought in Japan. Opinion at home was mixed, to say the least. I was telling him this as we were waiting for the girl at the counter to stop applying lip gloss and take our money. He said he wasn’t sure about the boots. The girl at the counter said “Don’t mind them, I think they’re deadly”. (“Deadly” means brilliant, by the way.) I was stunned. A perfect stranger, butting into our conversation! An employee, stepping out of her employee role and offering an opinion! Wooohoooooo! In Japan, it’s hard to get the local 7-11 girls to recommend a brand of canned coffee. I go there every freaking day!
Other things too, like not being the chubbiest, scruffiest woman within a two-town radius. I went to visit a friend who has just moved into a new apartment in a swish building. In the lobby, there was a woman in her pyjamas. She was wearing a coat mind you, because of the cold, and carrying a shopping bag. IN HER PYJAMAS! I nearly kissed her. I probably would have, except I was afraid of getting knifed. 
And then, there were things I didn’t miss. Like public transport – getting anywhere was an exercise in frustration and disappointment. Not to mention the recession. Ah yes, The Recession. It will certainly be the topic of another post, but for now I’ll just say that before I went home the global recession was something of a myth. I read about it in online newspapers and I heard about it from family but I hadn’t seen it for myself. Going home assured me that it was actually, depressingly, real. 
It made me grateful. Although I’m worried for friends and family, and for my country, and the world at large, I’m grateful that I have a job. It might be exhausting at times, but really, I have it easy. I get paid a wage that rises by the day due to currency fluctuation (I still calculate my wage in my home currency) and my living costs are low. Mostly though, I’m grateful that I was born into a language and an economy that has made it possible for me to be able to be welcomed to Japan, with enough money to be able to fly across the world for a few weeks for the holidays. 
Altogether, I had a good time at home. It was tough to come back. There were tears at the airport and tears on the plane. But then, I arrived back into the bosom of Japanese efficiency and helpfulness, was guided politely from the gate to a coach to my town where I was picked up by my boss and driven home. 
And you know, I was glad to be back. 
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