A few plans have fallen through and a few have gone fine.
Zack and I made it back to America after about 24 hours of traveling in planes, trains, and automobiles. We spent 3 hours on a bus, two hours on a train, about 14 hours total on a plane, and I spent 4 hours in a car (he spent about 2). But we made it safely. Walking through that terminal into the airport is one of the best feelings in the world, better than peeing on a long car trip. I hate flying. Even moreso because some guy tried to blow himself up on a flight two days after I flew home. What a scary world.
So my plan to surprise Melissa for Christmas was a success. Our ideas for how to surprise her (should I be in a big gift box?) didn't exactly come to fruition; instead, we met her in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree. She and Olivia were really happy and it made me feel good to give her a good surprise for once in her life. My big sister deserves a lot more than what this world has given her.
My plans for returning to Japan are still not finalized. I have a return ticket for January 3 that I won't get to use. I finally quit my job. I could only deal with them putting off getting me a visa for so long. When they told me to re-enter Japan on a tourist visa again using a fake ticket, I knew it was time to get out. I got my diploma from them and left a note at the main school building.
Zack and I have been offered jobs from the same company which we will most likely take. They said during our interviews that they could give us jobs close together. So I will be returning to Japan in March.
For about three months, I will have to readjust to life in America. I will have to deal with having little to no income again (unless I can miraculously find a job). I will have to drive again. My risk of getting cancer is increased.
I know it seems like a weird thing to worry about, but America has the highest rate of cancer in the world. When I moved to Japan, my risk of getting cancer was 1 in 4. Now, my chances are back up to 1 in 2. And it's easy to see why. The most shocking part of coming back was seeing the sheer size of things. The roomy lanes on roads. The huge SUVs and pickup trucks that people leave running while they order lattes at a coffee shop. The trash cans that we stuff bottles and styrofoam plates into without taking a moment to think about where it will end up. And of course, you see it in the people. In the way their clothes stretch tight across their chests and bellies, the way they load pounds of beef and buckets of butter-flavored spread into their shopping carts.
I've already gained back most of the weight I had lost in Japan. I know what you'll say, that I really shouldn't worry about that, but I do. I worry that I'll let myself go and end up like one of the women who tell me that they were once my size but got lost along the way. I just don't want to be unhealthy. I don't want to tell sell myself short.
Because the thing that is smaller in America is the life span. We may have what many consider the highest standard of living in the world, but we don't get to enjoy those pleasures as long as other industrialized nations.
I'm a little sad. I've been living in a place where it's hard to be unhealthy, where people feel it is their duty to sort the trash into bags to be recycled, where being old is seen as a mark of dignity instead of a burden, where people work hard and take care of themselves and each other. Now, I'm back in the land where you're free to be as horrible to yourself and the world in general as you want to be.
We will be long distance again. I hate being so far away from Zack but at least this time I can see a clear and happy ending. When he left the first time, all I could see was a depressing haze of calendar pages with nothing on them. I was in purgatory. Now, I'm more on a break from foreign life, just gearing up for the next adventure. I plan on getting a lot of writing done while I'm here. Work on my novel and interviews for the memoir that I hope to complete one day.
But I'm back in context. It's less comforting than I thought it would be. At least I get to see some of the people I love. They're the only thing that make this place seem like home.