Near Yellow Mountain

Friday, January 28, 2011

A tale of three countries

Jan 28th - Tokyo

This was the first time to visit both China and Japan on the same trip since moving back to the US. For 11 years I either lived on Japan or China - one place or the other was home. I went to Japan often from (1995 to 1999) when I lived in the US but I never visited China when I was living in the US. Long flights give you a ample time to think of this kind of trivia.

Last month I made a quick trip to Japan but my mind had not really grasped the fact I had no longer lived in Shanghai so it seemed very normal to make a three day trip to Japan.

This trip my perspective on both countries was a little different.

Visiting both countries still feels normal and like "home" to a large extent. On the other hand, now that I am living in the US, I seem to be gravitating back to being surprised by the politeness and "crowded quiet" in Tokyo and the bone jarring street noise in the wild west of Shanghai.

Now, Connie and I are living in a very quiet area with the 15th hole of a golf course behind our backyard and the 16th tee across from our front door.  I drive to work alone; enjoying the solitude and being behind the wheel again but missing Philip's smiling face and updates on some random subject that each morning gave me new insights into a world I would never fully understand. It was also nice to be able to nap on the way to and from work. I had that option on the trains in Japan and in the car in Shanghai. Now, a two second head bob could have dire consequences.

As darkness falls at Narita airport and the Singapore Airlines 747 that will take me to LA  is being readied for takeoff less than 100 feet from where I sit; even after traveling the world for more than fifteen years,  I still marvel at the different experiences you can have on a eleven day round the world trip. I still find air travel amazing. It is 5:30PM on Friday in Tokyo, by 1PM Friday in Los Angeles I should be seeing my daughter. Maybe not a real time machine but an experience that I never take for granted - landing a few hours before I took off.

Although it sometimes seems like I have three home countries now; the greatest feeling is how much I look forward to the visit in LA with Cailin and then getting home to North Carolina. Three months ago, I didn't expect to be having that feeling.