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    I’ve been stretching my mouth / To let those big words come right out

    It’s morning in America.

    No, I’m serious; I’m actually writing this in PA, so the timestamp will be the same for me as it is for my stateside readers. Yesterday was insane with farewell drinks and flights and things, but I got to JFK around 11 p.m. and arrived at my parents’ place at 2-ish, I think. Having convinced their two Siamese cats to concede my superior fabulousness–why that always takes such a long time, I do not know–and thus my right to occupy the room I lend to them during the other 51 weeks of the year, I crashed. Hard.

    I don’t remember how I got Japanese pages to encode properly on my mother’s machine, so until I do (or unless I take my laptop somewhere with WiFi), I don’t really have any access to Japanese news, which is a weird feeling. A less-weird feeling is that of being back in my hometown without being seriously disoriented.

    I love visiting my parents, who are great people to be around and have a very comfortable house. My hometown…well, I discovered very early along that I’m a city person. I expend a great deal of energy defending the suburbs and car commutes and things because it’s the right thing to do–either you believe people should have the liberty to choose how they live, or you don’t and you think they should be cajoled, coerced, engineered, and harangued into making your pet trade-offs–so I hope confirmed small-town types won’t take offense when I say that being home exhausts me. Most of the time when I come back, I have to use a few days in New York as a buffer between Japan and here, since the City is way less brittly frenetic and stressful than Tokyo but way more dense and kinetic than Emmaus. It’s a good way station. This time, of course, I was in the Caribbean in one of those self-contained resorts that give you the spooky sense that you’re in a biosphere. Or on board the Nostromo. The Lehigh Valley feels positively megalopolitan by comparison.

    So I’ll be back after running errands and figuring out how to get JIS encoding here and eating more molasses cake than is probably strictly necessary for one’s first day home.

    5 Responses to “I’ve been stretching my mouth / To let those big words come right out”

    1. susanna says:

      Welcome back to the states! I’ve driven through the Lehigh Valley quite a lot, and it seems a nice place. Had I known, I could have waved at your parents as I zipped through on 78 all 33 million times (okay, it just felt like it).

      Interesting how you describe time in your home town – that it “exhausts” you. I take from that that you don’t hate it, or the people, and actually can enjoy it in small doses – but you have a finite tolerance. That is precisely how I feel about big cities. I’m very glad I got to spend a few years in the shadow of Manhattan, and I hope to keep visiting there regularly, but it exhausted me. Every single thing required tremendous effort – shopping, eating, getting around – exhilarating but it drained me like a battery in a teenager’s cell phone. I even learned to drive competently in Manhattan, but I would be hellishly aggressive and snarling by the end of the trip. The sad thing is, sometimes that was exhilarating too!

      I do think we have certain personality rhythms that flow with specific community contexts, and we’re happier when we’re in those places. For me, it’s small town America – at least, that part of it that’s within reasonable distance from a Wal Mart. 😀

      Enjoy your parents, enjoy PA, and get home safely. Merry Christmas!

    2. the City is way less brittly frenetic and stressful than Tokyo

      That is frightening. I’m so NOT a city person

    3. And as for the title, I’m not taking the bait

    4. susanna:

      “Interesting how you describe time in your home town – that it ‘exhausts’ you. I take from that that you don’t hate it, or the people, and actually can enjoy it in small doses – but you have a finite tolerance.”

      Yes, that’s exactly it. When I was in my early twenties, I did think I hated it, because it felt like a straitjacket. I mean, I feel fortunate to have grown up in one house, with relatives on both sides close at hand, and going to school with a lot of the same people all through. (Of course, you can do that in the city, too.) For me, it’s mostly the built environment and the way it affects behavior. I love driving, but I hate having to drive; I like leisure, but I don’t like having nothing to do that isn’t leisurely. Once I was away from it for a while–first in Philadelphia at college, then in New York and Tokyo–I realized that it was personality thing rather than an ethics thing.

      I’m glad we both ended up where we’re suited to. Merry Christmas to you, too.

      jeff:

      “And as for the title, I’m not taking the bait.”

      What bait? Never mind–don’t tell me. I’m already beset by dirty old men.

      BTW, I had the vague idea you lived in the Bay Area megalopolis?

    5. I live in Oakland, &almost never darken the door of SF. Besides, the Steamworks is in Berkeley, who needs SF?

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