So when are you coming back?

Friends and family ’back home‘ keep asking me how much longer I’m going to stay in Japan. I think for them it’s just a well-intentioned and rather logical question. Someone who leaves inevitably needs to come back, right?

It’s not that simple. At least not for me.

In the past ten years, I moved houses, cities, countries and continents a total of ten times. Ten in ten. It has left me restless. Always searching for the place called home. The place where things would just feel right. For the longest time, it was my biggest wish to find a place where I’d want to stay. Where I could dig my roots into the ground. Where maybe, there could be somewhat lasting happiness, too.

Calling this blog Home Sweet Home Yokohama from the very beginning was my personal challenge to turn the name into reality. To really make Yokohama my home.

I honestly don’t know how long I’m going to stay here. What I do know though is that for now, this is where I need to stay put for a while. Because I just have to. Because I can’t keep packing my bags and boxes, leaving everything behind and starting over, again.

If you’ve done it, you know how much energy goes into relocating. How many tears go into saying goodbye to a place and its people and how much it hurts to rip out the tiny roots that had just started to grow. And finally, how much anxiety goes into venturing into the unknown.

People who haven’t done it probably think I’m on some sort of vacation, to see interesting things, take a few pictures, then throw my stuff into a suitcase and head back.

I’m not.

This is not a trip, this is life.

Everything and everyone in it at this point didn’t just magically appear. Building a home, routines and relationships takes work and time. I’ve been in Japan 1,5 years now and I’ve just recently gotten to a point where I can genuinely say that I love my life here. I’m happy at work, I love my kids, I have friends I care about, I get to travel and see and learn. Things are good. I finally feel settled.

Another important thing I’ve come to understand: No place is ever going to be the ’perfect home’. Shit happens everywhere. Loneliness hits you no matter where you go. No society is ideal. Japan is not a fairytale land. (Luckily I never expected that in the first place.)

Nonetheless I’ve found something here that is worth holding on to. Whenever I land at Narita airport, I’m overcome with a feeling of serenity. When I walk through my neighborhood towards my house, I feel safe.

When I turn the key in my apartment door, I’ve arrived home.

So, no, I’m not ’coming back’ just yet.

 

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