contrasts and returns home

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?

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