Sunday, January 16, 2011

Re-entry

I had a near meltdown the other day. I thought I'd lost my wedding ring and then I couldn't find a gift for Peanut's birthday. Neither instance in and of itself would normally cause me to lose it so easily. But mash it together with re-entry culture shock? Yup.

Just that morning I'd gone to look for my ring and couldn't find it where I would "usually" keep it here in the bedroom we stay in at my in-law's place. But I couldn't find it. Which would not surprise you if you could have seen the stuff all over the place. Piles of my stuff -the girls' stuff - my MIL's stuff - my SIL's stuff. Because all of us have to use this space throughout the year and it collects everybody's stuff until there's no clear space for my stuff or the girls' and I just end up snagging a spot on a shelf if I can. Until 2 days ago, most of our stuff was all over the floor or on tabletops in the room where I could at least see it and knew where it was even if it wasn't what anyone would reasonably call "organized". (We have since then seriously reorganized and cleaned up and started to box up really old stuff from grandma and great-grandma to make some space.)

Anyway, on this day last week, we left for the store in search of a birthday present for Peanut and I was struggling to cope with the possibility that I'd lost the ring for good. We got to the store and headed for the toy department. And found nothing. Oh there were aisles and aisles of branded, flashy stuff for older kids especially. But I was hoping for something that didn't have Disney or Hello Kitty or other countless Japanese brands/characters all over it. I was hoping for something age appropriate for a 3 year old. There may have been a few items in the store that met this criteria, but as my Japanese is fairly limited (particularly when reading it) I was totally unsure. I became more and more discouraged about finding anything I wanted and finally gave up.

At this point, the re-entry crash and burn occurred. I'd reached that seemingly inevitable moment when my frustration with my own limited language abilities collided with the limitations of the living situation in which we reside etc. and suddenly I was nearly weeping in the middle of a large train station as the culture shock rocked me. I always know it's coming at some point, but never know exactly when or how it will manifest.

Ugh. In the end I came home and dug around under piles of stuff and finally found the ring. What a relief. And the gift itself isn't that important. Peanut will survive without. It's the process and the accompanying frustration ("Why can't they just describe everything in English?! Ohhhhhh. Because we're in Japan. Duh.") that really messes with my head.

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