I gave my Mom a big hug as she cried. It was clear she was glad to have me home. I then turned to my best friend, who was wearing a Batman mask for some reason. I gave him a hug as he cried, “Dude, you’re back!” It was clear he was glad to have me home. And for the next couple of weeks, it was good to be back– to catch everyone, to see what changes have been happening in Arkansas.
For awhile it just felt like I was on vacation.
But then being around started to become the norm. Everybody had their routines while I was stuck sorting things out. Suddenly, Japan felt really far away. The last 3 years of my life felt like a daydream.
My best friend assured me the next “big move” would take time.
“You went out there and did great, just like I knew you would. You went and touched people’s lives, just like I knew you would. But I think you’re going to find your real big payoff here. Because in your heart, the way you think, you’re American.”
Maybe this was true. I couldn’t say.
A few weeks ago, I had another break– I went to Boston for my cousin’s wedding. We haven’t kept in touch so well over the years, but I was happy to make it. Just like all my friends, she seemed to have things in order.
I saw so many relatives I hadn’t caught in years. And when we were sitting together, they’d have their own little conversations in Vietnamese. I’d have no idea what was going on– but I loved it.
It reminded me of when I was in Japan.
Being in that ignorant bliss was so comfortable, so peaceful. I mentioned it to my uncle, and he said, “Jon, it’s because deep down you have the heart of Asia.”
I think he was drunk. But, when I was overseas, I had several Japanese friends mention the same. “Oh, you’re not so American, you’re much more like the Japanese… I think you’ll be happier with a future over here.”
And I was open to the idea. I still am.
My uncle was quick to point out I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what to do. A lot of the Asian kids who come from immigrated families deal with the same– they grow up never feeling completely connected with any group. Too out of touch with their parents, too isolated from the rest.
I’ve been thinking things over, hoping for that moment of clarify. So by the time I post this I’ll have that moment of epiphany where I can share some sense of enlightenment.