Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Joy of Coming Home

Don't get me wrong...I love the USA. My country offers freedoms found nowhere else (see the Bill of Rights). We have an amazing abundance of inexpensive foods (we spend less of our total income on food than people in any other country on earth). We've got broad, smooth highways and shining skyscrapers and vast vistas of forest and field and mountains and plains. Our diversity is second to none, and when I arrive in America, I see a rainbow of hair color and skin color and eye color, and I exult in that variety that defines our melting pot.
We got to have a Prairie Home Companion visit with Fearless Husband's Lutheran Minnesota family, complete with a Norwegian holiday dinner of lutefisk, lefse, meatballs, krub, krumkake, fattigmand's bakkelse, sand bakkelse, and rommergrot. Grandma Betty can COOK! We also had several intense rounds of Spoons, Spades and Whist, as well as board games after feeding the horses and goats at Uncle Chris and Aunt Jo's farmette.

Then we got to see my family, including my spectacularly smart and beautiful nieces (no, I'm not biased! Ha!) and my wonderful brother and sister-in-law. My other brother gave me one of The World's Greatest Backrubs, and took a day off work to spend time with us. I enjoyed a contra dance with my stepfather playing banjo, some time (but nowhere near enough!) with the looms and dyes with Mom, a too-short but great lunch with Dad and my stepmother, and a truly glorious Epiphany Evensong at my home church (, complete with incense and delighted hugs from my fellow choristers.

I bought canned tomatoes with okra, and a box of kosher salt, and some lovely Christmas ornaments on sale, none of which are available here in Japan. I drove down the expansive highway on the right side at 70 mph (the top limit on the expressway here in Sasebo is about 49 mph). Mom and I both wept when we parted at the airport.


Joy is coming home. Joy is getting on an ANA flight with perfect, doll-like, bow-bedecked flight attendants bowing and smiling and offering hot towels and hot green tea. Joy is strangers begging your pardon, and cashiers and clerks bowing and smiling and behaving as if their entire existences revolve around helping you, their customer.

Joy is staggering into the house with, God knows, FAR too much luggage, and sighing with happy relief to put it all DOWN. Joy is lying in my very own bed, beside my softly snoring husband, hearing the tick of the house settling itself around us once more.

Joy is coming home again. Happy New Year.


Namito said...

Welcome back, Carolie!

Ahh, those hot towels. They should be part of EVERY flight.

Ei said...

Ah Carolie,
You have such a love for are a good woman. Glad you got home, safe and sound.

Nichole said...

Glad your trip with family was pleasant. Though I don't live overseas, I can understand how you feel. Being with family is a joy in itself, but coming home to your own little nest, no matter where in the world, is all the more sweeter.

Miz BoheMia said...

Happy New Year Carolie! I am glad to hear you had such a delightful time! Here's to many more!

Carolie said...

Rock -- yes, those lovely towels! Almost as wonderful as the heated toilet seats! Thanks for stopping by...I'll touch base soon!

Ei -- it's always wonderful to see you...thank you for your kind words!

Soleclaw -- You understand completely! Thanks for stopping by...E sure is growing! I love stopping by to see her on your blog.

My dear Miz B -- SO good to see you! Sorry for the long absence...I'll be stopping by your place soon, I promise! Happy New Year, and to many more years filled with friends like YOU!

エミリ said...

I totally understand the feeling when you finally get back to Japan after a crazy trip back to the US. I wish I too was heading back that way....:(
Anata no itoko,

Carolie said...

Dearest えみり,

I wish you were headed this way, too! Maybe next fall you can come back to see me? Let me know what's going on for the two of you. Are you headed to Europe? Any clues yet where you will be living?

Anata no itoko,

Anonymous said...

CAROLIE! Happy New Year! I love how you describe things in your writing. I'm so glad you and your husband not only had time to spend with family, but had time to spend together. Welcome home!

Carolie said...

Thank you for stopping by and for commenting, Shawnta! I've missed you...are you still here in Sasebo? When do you head home? I'll give you a call...we'll have to get together soon!

wendybirde said...

Hi Carolie, I just found your blog through kind blogs and am so happy I did! I'm very drawn to Japan (and food, lol), and look forward so much to exploring your lovely blog soon : )

Blessed Week : ) Wendy

Carolie said...

Wendy, thank you for visiting, and for your kind words! Please do come again, and feel free to explore!

Mary Witzl said...

Great post as usual, Carolie. How I miss those oshibori!

What a huge contrast there is between the sometimes rude indifference of shop assistants in a lot of American stores (('m thinking mainly of Manhattan) and the almost over-the-top friendliness and helpfulness of their Japanese counterparts. I'll never forget one time when I went into a fancy department store in a big city to renew my youth hostel card. I was wearing mompei (cotton trousers with elasticated waist), an old tee-shirt, mud-encrusted hiking boots and a back-pack half the size of Texas. The dainty, beautifully groomed salesgirls all bowed and greeted me with such a show of welcome it was almost surreal. If I'd been them, I could NEVER have kept a straight face.

I always found myself wishing I could put all the good things from both Japan and America into one place and leave all the bad things somewhere else, but that is a pretty silly idea. The flaws of any country are as much a part of it as are all the wonderful, colorful bits.