Hello! This is Jason. Next month will mark five years since I moved to Japan. In those five years I have gone back to my hometown every other year (with the exception being 2009) to visit family and friends at Christmas. When I first returned in 2009 after less than a year in Japan, my hometown of Dayton Ohio still very much felt like home and that I was returning after a long vacation; however, that isn’t the case anymore.
The first things you notice when returning are the easy things. How much your nieces and nephews have grown up, and the reverse culture shock you’ve developed from living in another country. When I first came to Tokyo, the bright lights in your face everywhere was sensory overload. It would actually fatigue me. Now when I come home I feel under stimulated because of the lack of bright flashing lights everywhere. The more difficult stuff I didn’t notice until this past Christmas; how much older your parents, and grandparents have gotten. I’m not going to go into details, but it was painfully obvious that everyone is getting older and won’t be around forever. I regularly talk to everyone on Skype, but for some reason it doesn’t register as much as seeing them in person and how they go about their daily lives compared to when you last saw them. Living there you see them all the time, so the changes aren’t so noticeable, but when you only see them for a week at a time every two years, there is noticeable change.
Not everything was sad though. One of them decided they needed to get in shape and they work out every day, to which they have had great success. It’s just sad to think that the people who have always been in your life will eventually all be gone.