Friday, July 06, 2007
Today, last year at this time I was arriving in Detroit. Sebastian and Jason had returned one week before so I flew solo. I was bumped to first class for the long flight from Kansai Airport to Detroit. I had a window seat and strained to see if our friends were at the visitors tower where we had all taken the kids months before to watch the planes land and fly away. As the plane took off, tears threatened to spoil my view of the blue-green mountains, small fishing boats off the coasts of Wakayama and Mie prefectures. The flight was indulgent and I felt out of place. I watched old movies and thought about my son waiting for me. I think I only slept for about 20 minutes during the long, long flight. And then, beneath me, America's heartland laid out like a checkerboard. Backyards came into focus, swimming pools and swingsets scattered behind little boxes called home. The airport was typical but I felt removed from the frustrations, detached, a feeling that in some ways has become permanent. I was back but I didn't want to be. I fed quarters to a phone and a still jet-lagged Jason tried to reassure me while I whispered about the bizarre happenings around me. A father slapping his child, two obese women complaing about the price of a candy bar, the airport employee who was rude to me until she realized I was American. I waited for an hour with large families in knitwear, headed for a visit with the big M. On the connecting flight to the Sunshine State, I was squeezed between these people who wanted to switch seats with these other people and ended up chatting with a guy who had just finished up his tour of duty in Korea. I learned so much about that man but now I can't remember a single detail except that he called women "skirts" and I thought that was rather quaint (albeit sexist). My parents found me and they looked the same except they were different. I waited for ten minutes at the luggage claim for my olive green umbrella from Muji, despite their suggestion that I forget it and just buy a new one from Wal-Mart. We stayed at a Days Inn outside of Orlando and ate at the attached IHop. Or was it Denny's? It was All-American Food either way and everything was too big and the a/c was too cold. And that was that. I was home. One year ago today.