On the Plane

Saturday, August 11, 2001

After months of anticipation, we are finally on our way to Tokyo for a two year stay.

This summer has been one that we will remember for a long time because we were on schedule overload 100% of the time. Before Dot's assignment was finalized, we had planned on having lots of friends and family visit us in our Connecticut home. This included a month long stay by our daughter and her three children which we were looking forward to very much.

When we knew for the first time that the assignment was now a sure thing, it was too late (nor would we have wanted) to cancel any of these plans. As a result, July and early August saw us frantically trying our best to both play host to our company but to also make all of the necessary arrangements for leaving our home and moving ourselves. Alas, we didn't succeed and failed miserably, but thanks to loving family and friends, we got through this seemingly endless preparation phase.

Now, as we sit on board the plane, we are rapidly decompressing, getting some much needed sleep, and starting to wake up to the fact that this is really happening (Dot is already making shopping lists).

While we have been to Japan many times both on business as well as to visit family, we've never ever lived abroad for a period of two years. It's something we're looking forward to with eager anticipation yet, though we don't want to admit it, a strange bit of anxiety. Will we really enjoy it as much as we have our visits in the past? Will we make admirable ex-pats or will we end up being some of those ugly Americans? Will we be able to truly assimilate a new culture or will we revert back to living in the ex-pat Tokyo environment?

One of my major concerns is getting to know present and future Japanese acquaintances in a closer way never before possible with our brief visits of the past. We have always had such wonderful experiences here. For the most part, we've always been here on vacation and to relax -- something made quite easy because without knowing the Japanese language, you become quite insulated from what's happening in other parts of the world while you're here.

But now we'll be here for two years. We'll begin an ordinary day to day existence with our work and, when not at work, looking for and enjoying things we've never been able to before. We'll meet Japanese people on a day to day basis. Will they be as interesting and delightful as we have found in the past? Or will we begin to discover some ordinary and irritating things in them (as we're sure they will in us)?

One thing I need to tell you right away is that our frequent trips to this country have been primarily to see our daughter and her family. She moved here right out of college almost exactly sixteen years ago. Three years into her stay here she met and married a very nice Japanese man and they now have three children who are quite the apple of their Grandpa's eye. They do live quite a distance from where we'll be in Tokyo and to see them will mean a two and a half hour train ride. But those few hours seem quite insignificant when compared to the twenty four hours it has taken in the past - to say nothing of getting adjusted to new time zones and eating patterns! Indeed, we've met several people who live in their town of Morioka and work in Tokyo and vice versa.

So here we go, hurtling through space toward a new adventure filled with unknowns and lots of challenges surely we've never dreamed of before.
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