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623 Days, Home In Retrospect

Japan used to be what I called home. It’s where I had my business. My friends. Where I created a family. Then stuff happened. I lost the family I created. But unlike the Hollywood tropes, business was still good. And I quickly fell in love again too. Love doesn’t wait for anything. Especially not when you’re me.

With the events that happened came an irresistible urge to leave Japan. It was an accumulation of feelings and circumstances, which I initially attributed to wanting to experience life in another country, but I now know was a desire to start fresh. A new chapter, in a new location.

For once, just as easy as it was said, it was done. I shredded my residence card and paid my taxes one last time, and with that I was no longer a resident in Japan. I was a tourist. For 90 days. After that I had to go back home.

Oh fuck. Home. Where was that again? Was it the Netherlands? Somewhere else? In the Netherlands a commercial used to run on TV. “Home is where you drink Dauwe Egberts”. A coffee brand. Which countries do they sell Dauwe Egberts? DE for short. Was DE still sold in the Netherlands? And could it really be so simple?

Talking with a friend, I discovered that life in Abu Dhabi ain’t too bad, has a favorable business climate, and on top of that food is great. Oh, they also have Dauwe Egberts. Albeit in Nespresso capsules. And so we moved. Life moved on. And December came.

A trip was planned back to The Netherlands. For the first time visiting with a person I really, really love. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be different from last time. All I knew is that I was looking forward to showing Chinatsu where I came from. The food I like. The places and people that helped shape who I am.

I’ll save the details of the trip for another post, but as holidays go, at one point it was time to go back to go home. But again, where is home? Japan no longer felt like home. Abu Dhabi? We’ve only been living there for a few months. Our apartment is barely furnished. To call it home would be a stretch. And in The Netherlands we don’t even have a place to live. I’m not registered as a resident there. Only as a citizen.

The more I thought about our situation in Abu Dhabi, the more I realized that perhaps really all it really is, is a layover. A very long one. With an apartment. Visas. Insurances. And a car lease. But a layover regardless. It’s not my final destination.

Where is my final destination? Do I have a final destination? Or am I destined to hop from country to country until I am forced to begrudgingly live in the ethereal plane. Do I call my final destination home? Or is home where I sleep.

The practical, theoretical, and philosophical meaning of home are certainly all different. I’m writing this on an airplane with no WiFi so I can’t check. But for me, I have discovered a stronger sense to be closer to the country where I was born. To be closer to my family and to be closer to my old friends. Am I longing to go home?

When I left the Netherlands to fly back to Japan two years ago I left with more questions than answers. I’ve answered a bunch of them since, and this trip has really given me a better understanding of who and what I am, and perhaps more importantly who I want to be. This time I leave with answers and very few questions. I leave with optimism and a renewed love and appreciation for the country I was born in, and the friends and family I have there.

Indeed. The journey is just beginning.

Chinatsu and me