Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What am I looking forward to regarding moving back to the US?

 At the end of January, I went out to lunch with my 2 really good friends and they asked me this question. What was I looking forward to, about moving back to the US. It was such a perfect question. I had a 100 things rush in my mind all at once. My face lit up and I started naming a few things. And my smile grew wide. It's a question I have been asked a few times since. And I thought it would be perfect for today... to post about it. Regarding my kids, what am I most happy about for them getting to move to the US? As far as my kids are concerned?

For Branden...I am looking forward to Branden getting to go to homecoming dances and attending prom for his junior and senior year of high school. I’m looking forward to Branden getting his drivers license this year. I’m looking forward to Branden going to an American high school and enjoying things like...backwards day, where you dress in clothes that you put on backwards. Or pajama day, where everyone wears pajamas to school for 1 day. Or Halloween... how kids dress up at school. I look forward to Branden going to the school cafeteria and eating with 200 of his classmates. His high school experiences in the U.S. are going to be absolutely *phenomenal.* I can't wait to watch Bran have all these experiences.

As for Noah. I look forward to Noah starting an American Junior high school or middle school. Mine was called a middle school. I'll enjoy watching Noah get the chance to wear regular clothes to middle school. Like Vans and low top Converse. And a Jansport backpack. I look forward to Noah eating in an American school cafeteria. I look forward to..instead of a Japanese JHS life. Where *everyone* is expected to dress alike and be the same and feel stressed out... *all* the time because of the constant tests. I look forward to watching Noah discover who he is as a person, an individual and human being. To not be forced to be in a bukatsu/club and be in said club 24/7 even on Christmas day. To watch Noah flourish and thrive in the US. To watch Noah go to school dances. Dress up for Halloween. To get to watch Noah be a regular tween and teen.... I am beyond excited that half of Noah’s education will take place in the United States. For him to grow up doing the “Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America”, every single morning the way that I did growing up (I did check and yes schools still do this). I am looking forward to him having Taco Tuesday in the school cafeteria or a gorgeous salad if he chooses in the cafeteria. I am looking forward to him getting a few days off every November, because in America students get a few days off school for Thanksgiving in November.

American kids eating and picking what they want for lunch. There is water available. Milk (chocolate and regular) lots of fresh fruit and healthy vegetables. I loved picking lunch in an American cafeteria growing up and it does make me sad, when people talk crap about American school lunches. I always felt they were very nice. Is there crap stuff there too, if you pick it? Sure...but just don't pick it then.

You can pick a sandwich. Or whatever else you like in an American school cafeteria.
Tons of fresh fruit and my school always had a great big salad bar. With tons of types of toppings to make a salad with and about 3-5 different types of dressings too. There are plenty of healthy options. And I look forward to both Branden and Noah getting to eat lunch like this in the Fall.
Yep a great big salad, a fresh peach another piece of fruit and a milk. But again the kids can choose and decide what they want. 
The school cafeteria always buzzed with excitement. And again just an experience I can't wait for my kids to get to experience.
I look forward to watching you Noah, in an American middle school.

Bran's backpack. I wonder what type of school backpack my kids will choose before school starts in the Fall? Hmm.

Or what type of shoes my kids will pick to wear. No more school uniforms for you Branden. And no JHS uniform for you Noah. : )

What am I excited about for myself? To *never* have to “save a spot for undokai” ever again!!! To never have to dress up for an entrance ceremony ever again, yes in America we do dress up... but not to the extreme extent, that we do in Japan... in America graduation ceremonies, the focus is on the kids... not what adults are wearing. To never have to do aisatsu undo (morning greeting) ever again (greeting kids in the morning in Japan, every parent takes a turn doing that) To be able to go to Target whenever I want to... versus once a freaking year. To actually live in my home country. Which means when I make Thanksgiving dinner, *all* my kids classmates and all our neighbors and the whole country will also be celebrating and baking the same thing. Which is so nice... instead of being the only family in our town. To be a short 1 and a half hour flight from my home state, which means I can actually see my family and life-long friends (friends since my childhood) more often.

What else am I looking forward to? To actually take a REAL vacation. And what I mean by that is. As an expat. I tend to go to the United States once a year... when our big vacation comes. And we spend a good 12 days relaxing and 2 days shopping stocking up on stupid things... but essential things/necessary things like...underwear or bras or deodorant or coffee creamer or Advil. Or cold meds. Or tampons. It will be nice now... that we can actually.... go to for example... Washington DC sometime and see the museums and points of interest. To go to New York and take the kids to the Statue of Liberty and Central Park and maybe Little Italy. To go to South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore. We have been to New York before just once... our kids don’t remember a thing. And we have been to South Dakota and to Mount Rushmore, Noboru and I together, but our kids weren’t born yet. To go to Walt Disney World in Florida. To go to Disneyland in California. To go to Honolulu with *just a  carry-on* sounds like a dream. Meaning no need to carry 2 gigantic empty suitcases to lug things back to Japan. Now we can actually just go and chill and take a carry-on...for each of us. For us to maybe...be able to go to Alaska. Go to Canada. Go to Europe. Enjoy the world. And with just a carry-on. So yeah if you are an expat, you will understand this 100%. Because for 15-16 long years...instead of taking a vacation...I took a return trip home and it was like 90% relaxing yes, but 10% stocking up to bring essential things back to Japan and yes it was exhausting doing that once a year. Hella exhausting. But also quite necessary... if you live overseas. So yeah...it will be nice to *not* have to stock up anymore. And it’ll be *nice* to live in my home country. And it will be nice to be able to start taking real legit vacations. Without the big empty suitcase. If you live overseas. You will “get this” 100% completely.

What else am I looking forward to?  Listen. Some people are adventurous and want to live overseas. They love it. And never want to return to their home country ever except for a short visit, to live permanently overseas. I’m *not* one of those people. I fell in love with my husband. We married. We were to live in the US, that was our life plan and our goal. Then he was asked to live in Japan for 5 years by his work and it snowballed. Granted...I have always *thrived* in Japan. But I have *always always always* hoped to return to the US. If you are my irl (in real life) friend then you know that. I have *never* been shy to say that. I have spent 15 years in Japan, this June would mark year 16 for me, I won’t be here for that Japaniversary thank goodness.. I am so used to head bowing people on a daily basis. How long will it take me to stop doing that in the US? Honestly....maybe a few months. 

In 15 years time. LaCroix sparkling water has become a thing. It’s popular. I have *never* had one. I have always wanted to. But every time we’re in the US, I look for a single can to buy and can’t find one (I only find the box of 12 or 24 and if I hate it, I don't want to buy that many). What else. Panera Bread is hugely popular, I know that. I’ve never been. Also,I haven’t participated in a Black Friday since Branden was 2 or 3 years old and I went back to Colorado for a visit. I am not going to list for you....every little itty bitty thing that I haven’t been able to participate in or experience. But I will just say...it’s going to feel freaking amazing to be a proper American again. Who is actually living in the US. And be able to live there. Have a life there. And have all those life experiences...the experiences that I have sadly had to miss out on.... all these years. So...yeah. So to say that I am happy about the move... is really putting it mildly.

I will finally get the chance to try this. Will I like it? Maybe, maybe not. But now I can actually try it at least.
My girl friends that I grew up with, *always* go here. I have never had the chance. Now with us soon to be....living there. I will actually be able to go in one... any time I want. OMG! I can't believe it.

Panera Bread is famous for their homemade soups. And their salads and sandwiches. And their muffins and pastries. Where we are moving to...they have a Panera Bread. And now I can go. 

Now I can try things, I have always wanted to try. And dreamed about trying. So please, just be happy for me. This is just *so* what we want. A life in the states. 
I am so sick to death of only going to America for our once a year big vacation, once a year. And as soon as we deboard the airplane, I feel like a stop watch has been set and it’s ticking. LOUDLY. And I always feel like 12-14 days goes by too fast. I hate seeing my relatives and they have aged by 1 year... every time I see them again, makes me so sad because I love them, but I hate that a years time always passes before the next time and sometimes 2 years pass by. But now...even if I live in a different state... I’ll still only be a short 1 or 2 hours flight away, this is a domestic trip...that I can take often. It won’t feel like a great big ocean separates us any longer and oh... how I long for that. It won’t be opposite day and night anymore. We'll be on the same day and night and same day...oh what a dream. 
I took this picture the last time we were in Hawaii. 

I snapped this pic in Hawaii too. I love Target!!! You know what makes me sad? Walking into a Target one of my most favorite American stores. While on vacation. And feeling like....well...I’ll probably only be able to shop in this Target only once or twice for our entire trip. And feeling envious at my fellow American shoppers who get to shop there Every.Single.Week. If they’d like to. To always know that my “American time” and stay is.. *only* temporary. That it’s fleeting and will be over in a blink of an eye. Only 12-14 days and the clock is already ticking loudly, like I already said. I swear, I can hear that ticking stop-watch every trip, every summer. Everywhere I go for that short 14 days.

Noah in orange of course! I snapped this pic of us leaving Target in Oahu years ago. To know that I can too...shop at Target any ol' time I'd like, starting from April. I'm just overjoyed. The city where we will move will have Target too. And Walmart and Costco. And Walgreens.
The city we will be moving to in April will also have a Sonic. They make the best peanut butter shakes. To not have to wait once a year. To know we can go any time we'd like. I seriously can't even fully comprehend it yet. It hasn't kicked in for me yet. Our future city will also have quite a few Pizza Huts. Taco Bell obviously. Wendy's. Real KFC with mashed potatoes and gravy and macaroni and cheese as sides. American McDonald's (which the menu is different than Japan) Panda Express. Dairy Queen, yes our city we're moving to has Dairy Queen too. They have an Olive Garden. And Jack in the Box. Red Lobster. Again if you live in the US...this means absolutely nothing to you. But if you lived overseas and never had easy access to this stuff. Then it will be a huge deal to you, like it is to us. Of course there's way more restaurants, I am just naming a few. 
Yes, my future city will have an Ulta. I can't even believe that I'll have such easy access to cosmetics now. My future city also has a Sephora but it's just one inside a JC Penney....but seriously...beggars can't be choosers. As the old saying goes. So, I am just grateful to what I will have access to. Plus I can order online from anywhere soon, since I'll be living in the US. My city also has a Honey Baked Ham store. Not sure if I'll buy one. But gee whiz...I can buy one if I wanted to. My future city will also have 2 Bath and Body Works too. Plus shopping malls and outlet stores.
I grew up going grocery shopping at Safeway in Denver. The main stores in Colorado were, Safeway, Albertsons and King Soopers. If you grew up in Colorado, those were your stores. Safeway is located in 18 states now days, I checked online. And the state we are moving to, has tons of Safeway stores and Albertsons too. It also has a local chain too, which I won't name. But holy cow!!! I get to shop in Safeway every single, week if I want to now? Starting in April of course. Can't freaking believe it. I still have my Safeway club card, lol. I use it every time we're in Hawaii or Colorado. 

I used to love asking my favorite deli person to freshly slice me some black forest ham or some honey ham and to also slice me some really good cheese that I'd ask the person working there... to slice for me too for some sandwiches for my lunches for the week when we lived in the US, at Safeway. Or the big containers of potato salad in the summer. Or cheese danish for breakfasts. Can't believe this will be us in about 6 weeks again. 
See you soon Safeway.

Every single time I fly out of DIA (Denver International Airport)...and head back to Japan and I have mentioned it on this blog before too. I silently weep/cry as we fly out of Denver International Airport. Because I know...the next time I get there...it could be years. Because sometimes we go to Hawaii. Sometimes we go to other spots in the US. And now...I get to stay in the US for good....forever??? It's still hard for me to believe it. It's just something I always wished for. But didn't know if it would be in the cards for me. And now it is. 

Every single time that I am in the US. I fit in like a glove. I naturally just fit. I don’t have any food problems or adjustments. I love the chitter chatter. I always feel so completely at home in the states. And it always tugs at my heart when I leave the US. It is emotionally shattering. Leaving a country that you don’t want to leave. Granted...I was happy in Japan, don’t get me wrong. But I just blend in so seamlessly there. It’s effortless for me. I belong there, I feel it in my heart, I feel it in my bones. I have *always* felt that and known that.

Will I have a bit of an adjustment? Of course. I think I will be head bowing people for 2 months straight.... more than likely. I will probably feel like I am on vacation for the first month that we’re there...and only then... will I slowly start to realize..."umm Gina you live here in America now." So no need to stock up anymore. In Japan small talk is quite uncommon. But in America, it happens everywhere. So, yeah...I am going to have to adjust. And also...simple things like...driving on the right hand side of the road. My blinkers (turning signals) and windshield wipers are opposite to where they are placed in Japan. So I am sure I will be turning my windshield wiper blades on 3-5 times a day for a few weeks. So...yeah...am I going to have to adjust? Of course. But...I think we will adjust just fine. And by the time me and the kids are adjusted. Noboru will be moving there. And then we will be complete