Saturday, April 25, 2009

Home is where.....

I'm struggling to function without coffee. It's very early in the morning and Peanut just gave me a wake-up call before deciding she really, truly wanted to go back to sleep instead. Yes the nap transition continues....

Anyway, my fuzzy brain remembers that I wanted to mention "home". A couple of weeks ago, as North Korea was preparing to launch their "test rocket" (coincidentally in the general direction of Japan) I blogged about wanting to go home. At the time I really just meant the U.S. in general - anywhere there would have worked.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered when one's idea of "home" changes. In Japan for example, the verb "kaeru" is often used to mean "to return to one's home or country of origin". I've heard people specifically say that while it's accurate and appropriate for me to say that when I go back to the U.S. I "kaerimasu" (returning), it's not as fitting for my husband who is Japanese and that for him the appropriate verb would really be "iku" or to go. Now remember, Gboy has lived in the U.S. since he was 16 years old and more specifically, we've lived in Seattle for 8 years. Needless to say, he would argue that this limitation in word use is ridiculous because he thinks of going to Seattle as a return home.

For me, I definitely see our house in Seattle as a home. I miss so much about it. I miss the amazing libraries nearby. I miss the multiple parks within walking distance. I miss sidewalks where I can take Peanut for walks without having to cling to the edge of a country road without falling into a ditch while a surprising amount of traffic goes by. I miss the coffee shops -- dozens and dozens of amazing espresso machine owning, foam making, coffee loving coffee shops. I miss all of the green trees. And none of this covers my personal treasures - my bed, all of the handy tools that are part of my kitchen equipment, my BOOKS...

But in pondering the idea of home further, I realize that I also miss upstate N.Y. where I was raised. I could list dozens of restaurants, shops, festivals, and various local points of interest that I miss. In part, I do think I miss them because they're worth missing (i.e. they make an amazing pastrami on rye sandwich the likes of which I've never even heard of in Seattle), but the other part of that is pure nostalgia. I miss the old Friendly's restaurant where my girlfriends and I used to hang out after any school function held in the evening. I don't miss the place because the ice cream was especially good, but I miss it because some of my oldest friendships were created and solidified in that restaurant.

Throw all of this in a mixer and what do you get? I'm not sure. Perhaps what I'm thinking is that even though I don't think of Japan as "home" right now, maybe if we had a bit more space of our own I would. Or maybe, it's just a matter of waiting it out. When I first moved to Seattle I know I didn't think of it as home for close to a year and we have only been here in Japan for 7 months. Maybe with time things will change.

And maybe the answer is something as simple as muffin tins. If I could find one good sized muffin tin would my whole life here be complete??

Updated to add: Are there special places that you miss? That restaurant that makes homemade cannoli? (Wait that's me!) Or events that you long for? The firefighter's pancake breakfast in the town where you grew up? The 4th of July parade at your favorite summer vacation spot?


  1. CG - your post made ME so homesick. And I've never lived in Seattle nor even visited New York! Last year Jun and I, through the generosity of the grands, were able to make 3 trips to the US - after 2 years of not making it "home". And it just about killed me because of the homesickness it planted in me. I'm the out of sight, out of mind, kind of person - so this year, I think our one planned trip will be just enough. When do you guys leave?

  2. Ummm did you give up coffee?! Or had you not had any yet when writing this? I'll be very sad to lose my "coffee friend". I'm sorry your a little homesick today. I miss the town I grew up in and the river/beach we use to go to every day during the summer.

  3. Strangely, even though I always have said I'm a Midwesterner at heart, I do feel very at home now in Seattle. But I have certain places -- usually restaurants -- that I miss in Michigan, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis. Sometimes it's for the amazing food (e.g. pumpkin ravioli to die for) but usually it's for the emotional connection I have. *sigh* Oh, nostalgia...

  4. Funny, i wrote earlier in the week about the things we will miss about Australia and also the things we are looking forward to doing back in Japan

    I consider Japan to be my home- no house/apartment in particular but just the place itself. Shun of course sees it as his home also...

    Australia could easily become my home again though- I could live here long term but at this stage I am happy to be returning to Japan.

    I will miss space, hot days that are not too sticky, food and family and friends from Australia but there are a lot of things I missed from Japan since I have been here...

  5. I don't feel *kaeru* when I go to Australia anymore. Not sure why, I guess part of it is that I really love my house, neighbourhood, and village and feel really at home here.

    The other thing I guess is that getting home once every year or so I don't get a chance to get homesick. :)

    I do always enjoy my time home though. Especially showing the girls all the stuff my brother and I used to do.

  6. Hey Lady - I miss "home" i.e. great, organic food/supermarkets. But I think that I feel more settled in Japan because I do have my own space/house. I'm really interested to see how things feel once we are blessed with a kiddo though. I think you are probably feeling these pangs because now you know you are really going home! I bet you 5 yen that once you get back to Sheattul you will miss something about Japan ;D

  7. Sorry you're homesick! I love living in new york but I do miss home sometimes, they are such different places. We also own land upstate, hudson valley upstate, not too far from the city. I hope we'll eb able top build a little something (two room cabin) up there some time in the not too distant future, because we really love it.

  8. Kim - We leave in the end of June. I'm so excited.

    Lulu - We're about to trade places it seems. You get my slot in Japan :) But I'll be back....

  9. I am sometimes homesick, but since home is only 300 miles away, I can visit easily enough. I grew up in Chicago, and each time I visit, I'm so happy to have good restaurants, cheaper produce, more shopping options, better scenery, and more culture. But then I sit in a traffic jam at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon, and think that I am lucky that I don't deal with this all the time.

    Home is where you're most comfortable, but everything gets romanticized once you leave.