The first day ‘back’ was tremendously disconnected. In my own home, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. There was something about the space that set me off.
Had I really gotten used to Japan that quickly?
I had to try to fight the sleeplessness by getting some things done during the day so my body would re-calibrate to passing out after sundown. I unpacked, ran some errands and decided to get a haircut with my brother.
I waited in the cheap haircut store while my brother got his do done. I listened to the banter he had with his ‘stylist’. I waited, with my head bobbing back against the glass storefront window behind my chair. Finally, someone freed up, but at the same time as the my brother’s stylist.
Who wants me?
I can take care of you, if you want. (Really? And how does that make me want to pay you to make me look better?) Or, you can take ****. (Who just finished with my brother.)
I tried to draw out some humor to the hostile-awkward environment of them both putting me on the spot. I should have gone with the person who cut my brother’s. Everything about that moment reminded me why even in America, an individual cannot find a place to feel welcome. I have been going to that same shop for close to a year now. Each time, someone different. Each time, I know to expect to be disconnected. (Hell, I was tempted twice to mock up an alter ego / alias…)
Her tone gave away some animosity towards me. I was still sleep deprived and could barely put together two coherent sentences in a row. She asked about Japan, saying she loves the food and would love to go. She listened to nothing that I tried to communicate. I could feel the attitude in the brevity of her snips. I knew that even my smirk would not get her to make eye contact to enjoy a little humor in a story or a backwards cultural phenomenon.
I have never felt so out of place with America upon landing. I went about my next day back at work with people eying me; I think they saw some sparkle, some dreamlike state that I was roaming the halls in. I was quiet. And my closest coworkers did not want to give me much to do that day so that I could “transition”.
I snapped out about halfway through the day when I began talking Speech again. Nothing brought me back until I talked Speech. That’s when I knew I was back to business. And, so, I tried to think about where I actually was, what I was doing, what I could see…
Jan. 8, 2010 Tonight, at a restaurant dinner with some of my elders, discussion again came up about why America was going downhill, and how I would foot the bill for all of the mistakes. Even the middle-aged generations now believe this, not the true elders (grandparents, etc.). Do such discussions happen in the places I have been to? Where did this sense of a cultural self-doom come from?