Sorry about the delay in updates, I’ve recently returned back to America for a bit to visit the parents and renew my Japanese visa. Actually, I flew back on the 8th (the trash post was done from the airport, bless the free wifi). It’s been awfully hectic here with me trying to squeeze as much fun out of the limited time. Part of “job” here is to entertain the family, even my grandmother flew in to be a part of it. I haven’t visited in over a year. Saying they miss me would be an understatement, but since we’re all people nobody tends to say it.
Now, as much as it’s nice to be back in the hometown, it’s hard not to notice the striking differences between the two countries. Yes, I grew up here, but for the last two years I’ve been centering my life around Tokyo. Adjusting happens quick, and popping up back in the States for a month isn’t nearly enough to return to the ol’ self again. It’s concerning actually. What am I and what was I? At what point am I going to fall over to one side and never be able to come back?
Nonetheless, it’s relaxing being back in a country that speaks my native tongue as the norm. I never have to worry about accidentally insulting a stranger… or feeling incompetent. Having to use a second language on a daily basis will do that to you.
On the other hand, I just can’t get used to the idea that every bustling center is a drive away. Sure, it’s the same distance going from point A to B in Tokyo, but the transportation feels different.
Using the JR Lines involves walking and riding. The only times when you’re engaged is walking to and from your destination to the stations. Riding the trains around involves NO personal involvement. Even the act of searching for platforms and/or switching trains is forgettable. And once you plop your butt down on one of the seats of the train… well, you can space out all you want at 70 mph. Waiting becomes 80% of your commute.
But here? Oh, no. If you don’t have a car, you’re not going anywhere. The buses have cryptic scheduling, transit trains are few and far between, and bicycling is just plain slow. Thus, driving is the life and blood of living in America.
The problem is that driving is a taxing activity. It’s an exercise on hand-eye coordination while your fight or flight response is blaring red alert. All while racing at velocities never meant for the human frame. While the Japanese are dozing off at high speeds in a silver stream on dedicated tracks, Americans are just waiting to crash in giant torpedo. Torpedoes of their own choosing.
Which is why it’s mentally draining. For the entire trip you have to be aware, and knowing this makes you consider the journey before heading out.
Of course, walking is a viable option. Walking is a close to zoning out as you can get while the body is still in motion. It’s autonomous. Probably why it’s become my main mode of transport these days.
Yep, I definitely love my feet.