Friday, December 18, 2009

More Thoughts On America

(I wasn't satisfied with the initial post on my America trip, so I've been writing and rewriting a follow-up for weeks. I hope I've finally settled on something here that is more coherent.)

My trip home wasn't a disappointment. I spent a lot of quality time with my aging uncles and my dad. I had a nice lunch with my mom and was able to see a few other important people. The hunting wasn't great, but that's the nature of hunting. I didn't mean to imply that the reasons for the trip - hunting and seeing family - fell short in any way.

Instead it was the larger picture - the United States and how I fit into it. I didn't fit. There was a disconnect between the Me who grew up in America - and envisioned my whole life there - and the Now Me.

I've adjusted well to living abroad, to the point that it's not a novelty anymore. I have been overseas long enough (four years) to make an argument that this lifestyle best defines my adulthood. Previously, traveling to America was still 'returning home'; this year I felt like a visitor.

The "America" part of my trip was lackluster. I know the language, the cities all look the same to me, and the culture feels 'excessive'. I am looking for my life to be a challenge every day and that challenge here is taking the form of language acquisition and learning a new culture. Daily life in Japan has a constant element of 'do I know what's going on?', which makes it exciting and unpredictable.

Have you ever visited a foreign country or another state and left with a mediocre impression of it? Afterwards you think 'well that was nice (or maybe not), but I've seen enough.' That is how I felt after this trip. America still offers me family and friends, whom I want to see, and hunting, which I want to do, but I don't feel impelled to visit for travel or cultural reasons. I feel like my dad when he goes to a Seattle Mariners' game: he wants to see the game, but he hates dealing with the traffic.

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