There are days when I miss living in the American suburbs. Today is one of them. As I write, I am sitting on the back deck at my aunt and uncle’s house in Port Washington, NY, out on Long Island. I can hear a thousand different birds making varying tweets and calls, and there are even cicadas humming away in a unison siren song. Their deck faces west, so the enclosure of the trees and the bent of the generous house shade the back yard throughout the morning. It’s about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C) with a light breeze. All this, and we are a mere thirty minutes into “THE” city – New York City. In a word, it’s perfect.
As an aside, my favorite all-time movie line comes from the flick “Keeping the Faith” – the one where Ben Stiller is the Rabbi and his best friend the Priest is played by Ed Norton. Jenna Elfman plays the love interest. One day, the Priest and the girl are strolling through Central Park and the Priest says, “True New Yorkers know that anyone who lives anywhere else must somehow be…. Kidding.” This I believe.
But how do I reconcile this feeling with my love of Tokyo? Luckily I don’t have to.
When I’m away from Tokyo, I miss it. I miss the throng of people on the street. I miss the cleanliness. I miss walking from my home to my favorite Peacock grocery store. I miss onigiri. I did an entire blog posting about six months ago about the top ten things I miss about Tokyo when I’m not there, most of it centering around food!
Staying in the U.S. means something entirely different. I have my extended family all around me. I get to see aunts, uncles, and cousins who I haven’t seen in a year or more. I can be involved – or not – in the drama that is common to all families. I can eat as much grilled meat as my stomach – and cholesterol level – can handle. I can relax out on a deck surrounded by trees, in multiple places.
It all has to do with the idea of home. Right now, and for the next few years, Tokyo is home. It’s where my family lives and it’s where my life happens. I have my work and my activities in Tokyo. My kids go to school in Tokyo. My husband’s work is in Tokyo.
I have the best of all worlds now. I can come into the U.S. and visit my family and friends to enjoy all the things suburbia – and America – have to offer. And then I can go back to my city-mouse life in August.
But right now I’m going to close my laptop, then close my eyes, and listen to the quiet.