TADAIMA … the Japanese for “I’m home!” and it sure feels that way. It felt so natural getting on the train to TobuDoubutsuKouen … wonderful to have Yuki pick me up at the station with an 8 year old Naoya(!) in the car. Naoya escorting me from the car with an umbrella held way up in the air. And of course, the great hug from Shoko when I got inside.
With Naoya’s help, I put my bags in “my” room and found some of my things still in the drawers … I have a few clothes and accessories that have been at Shoko’s for years. As I came back downstairs to head to the o-furu (Japanese bath), I caught the good smells of dinner and realized I was starved. The last time I had eaten was about 1 hour out of Newark — at least 15 hours ago. We didn’t get breakfast on the flight before landing because the expectation of severe turbulence (which we never really felt) had us and the crew strapped in our seats.
After a long scrub in the shower followed by a soak in the tub, I donned my “Japanese housedress” and sat down to a wonderful dinner. It was so comfortable sitting at the table, reminiscing with Yuki, who is now 44, about how we were both so young when we first met — she was in middle school. We remembered a picture of me in kimono for the first time (courtesy of Shoko’s mother-in-law) with Yuki in her school uniform. And now her eldest daughter, Minami, with whom I bonded over edamame when she was 1 or 2, with be 17 next month. I have to have Shoko help me translate: Inside every old person is a young person wondering “What the hell happened?”
Shoko’s 94 year old mother joined us at dinner. She is tinier and slower than ever, but remembered me and is still chatty. She was the first to ask me the question I have been dreading being asked here, “What is going on with US politics?” They just don’t understand what is happening. I told them I didn’t either, and that if Trump wins, I will come back to stay!
Yuki and Naoya left … she had a long drive to get home.
Obaachan, as I call Shoko’s mother, went back to her room.
I was trying to stay awake at least until 8 PM but I didn’t make it much past 7. With the good food, the delicious beer (Asahi Super Dry), and the fact that I had not slept at all on the plane so I’d now been “awake” for over 24 hours, I crashed. I crawled under the futon on my bed and listening to the familiar sounds of the trains going by and fell immediately asleep. Except for the lack of cats, I was home.