One more week until we're back in the U.S.A. As in, 7 days from now we'll be boarding a plane at this very minute. Wow. I've learned a lot while living here. I had hoped that I'd get a better feel for the culture and my husband's history and upbringing here. I had hoped that I'd be able to better understand why he couldn't just say to his family, "My family and my life is in the U.S. now and I'm not coming back to live in Japan," (especially since that was really our original plan - barring any serious illness of his parents of course in which case we'd help out and stay for a while). Having lived here now for 8 1/2 months, I think I can safely say that I have in fact gained those perspectives. I'm not saying that makes all of life easier, but I think I have a better sense of the issues and factors that my husband has tried in the past to describe to me - to no avail.
I'm not sure that Japan and I will ever be best friends. But I do feel that I have a new appreciation for life and the culture here. I've enjoyed getting to know my husband's family better. I've met some wonderful people here through AFWJ and my Japanese class. As my Japanese language skills have improved, I've even found it easier to communicate with people in the village here and that in turn has helped me to feel more at home. And I'm *really* sad that my daughter will have to say good-bye to her grandparents and all of her extended family here. It makes me get all teary-eyed just thinking about it. Gboy's family is, by and large, an amazingly wonderful group of sweet, sweet people and I will miss them. I know for sure that Peanut will miss them. My whole extended family had moved away from my hometown by the time I was about 8 years old. No grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - it was just my parents, my sister, and me. Whenever I got the chance to visit our extended family I was thrilled. I grew up watching "Eight is Enough" and "The Brady Bunch" and I knew that some chaos was inevitable in a family that big, but darn it! They looked like they were having an awful lot of fun too and now that I've witnessed Peanut with her cousins and family, I know they don't always agree, but they DO have a lot of fun. I hate to take that away from her even for a little while.
Our plan right now is to return to Japan in time to celebrate the 2010 New Year; this helps make the parting more bearable. And of course, there's the promise of real pizza, Vietnamese food, Mexican food, Ethiopian food, beans and grains of wide varieties, and baked goods made with butter, salt and vanilla (all ingredients that seem to be lacking in many baked goods here) and of course - coffee. I can't forget to mention the amazing Seattle weather coupled with lots of great parks within walking distance. And while Peanut may not have time with her Japanese family while we're back in the U.S., we've already got plans to ensure that she gets to spend lots of time with her American family and they're so excited to see her! These are all strong incentives for making the return home!