It was official when we didn’t sign contracts for next year, but now that we have flight itineraries approved it seems even more official. We are, really and truly, coming back to the United States. And we will be there, all three of us, on August 6th!
I remember this time, just two years ago, when we were counting down the days until we went to Japan. It was exciting and scary and we were filled with anticipation about what our life would be like here. Now the reverse is true, our days in Japan are numbered (77 days, for anyone that is counting) but we feel as though we are returning to something so familiar and easy. While this familiarity is welcome, it is also a little scary as well.
Truth be told, we have really enjoyed the excitement and adventure of living here, navigating through a new culture, learning new jobs and a new language, meeting new people, traveling TONS, and generally having a good time. We have enjoyed the new spirit that we embraced when we arrived here and are a little sad and scared that it will disappear.
We are scared that once we are back in Chicago things will go back to being precisely the way they were when we left. Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood, it wasn’t as if our life was terrible when we were there two years ago. In fact it was quite the opposite. We had a good life. We had good jobs, decent salaries, a nice apartment, good friends (so many of whom we met shortly before we left for Japan and are looking forward to reconnecting with), but nothing really exciting happened.
Weekends were mostly filled with lazing about, maybe going out to a bar or a movie or a restaurant that we had, likely, been a million times before. Vacations were, largely, filled with visiting our large (and ever expanding) family. Here it has been the opposite. Weekends are often filled with going to or seeing things that are wonderfully exciting and new. Vacations have been, just that. Trips to interesting and, often, faraway places. It’s been a wonderful two years and I feel like I’ve seen and done so many things, and yet there is so much more that I want to see and do. So much that I want to show my new son.
Now I know that Chicago specifically, and the United States generally, has a lot to offer. It is just a matter of seeking it out. So, now that our return is definite, I have started scoping out some of what there is. As I have poked around the internet I have been amazed at how much Chicago has changed in the two years since we were there (there is an REI in the city now!!). But also I have been amazed at how much there is to do in Chicago and the surrounding areas. I know a lot of this was probably there when we were but we didn’t seek it out.
I am hoping that when we return we will continue to embrace the spirit of adventure that we have developed here and start truly taking advantage of what Chicago has to offer. If we do that, I think our return will be filled with a similar type of excitement and intrigue that our time in Japan has, just without the language barrier.
While we are apprehensive about our return and all the changes that go along with an international move, we are truly excited to be reunited with the friends and family that we have missed so dearly while we have been here. Some of the relationships with friends and family we have sort of let slide for the past few years. Not that I am making excuses but it is so much more difficult and time-consuming to maintain a strong relationship from halfway around the world with a 14-hour time difference. As our return nears, I have been feeling compelled to reconnect. After all, it is just 77 days until we will get to see you all again. We can’t wait!