Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Taking the Long Way Home

A reader asked, so I thought I might explain a little. There wasn't just one reason I went home. Last year, there was a death in my family, and another family member had a stroke. My job had made me too busy to do the things I went to Japan to do, and I was burned out at work. The re-election of Bush showed me that the loss of faith in America I experienced as a teenager (and then on through the Clinton years) was very possibly unfounded, and the realization that there were tens of millions of American voters I had something in common with helped. Maybe I had lost some faith in America in my youth, but I had never lost my love of America. The opposite of those who felt like fleeing the US after the 2004 election, I felt like I had something to return for. Maybe the dream is not quite lost ...

After seven years in Japan, I had become, to some extent, an outsider back home. In moving back, I wanted some time to think about it all, some kind of emotional space between Japan and Oklahoma. So, I chose to book passage on a container ship carrying cargo between Asia and the US, and then to drive Rt. 66 and I-40 the rest of the way.

My cabin view forward.
My cabin view forward.

The ship was big, but there are much bigger. It took a week and a half, cost just over a grand, including all meals, and deposited me on the pier in Long Beach, California. It was time to write and think a bit, time to learn a bit more about PHP programming, time to learn about different people living a very different life, but it was not the restful time to reflect I had wanted. Most of the conversations on board revolved around politics, and some of the European crew members continually attacked Bush, the neo-cons, America in general, etc., etc., etc., the whole time. It was, overall, a good experience, with lots of interesting talk, and there will be posts from some of the conversations we had, but not today.

Getting back to the US, I rented a car and visited a friend and a relative who live in California, then it was off down old Route 66 for a while. Contrary to the stereotype, there are Country & Western music stations in LA, as well as lots of old rock, which was a great start on the old route. My one real complaint about the drive home was I needed at least twice as long, and I could easily take a month to go LA to OKC, which is just over half of Rt. 66. I wish I could have stopped a lot more and seen a lot more things.

Rt. 66 sign.

Me on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
On a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
Sadly, no flatbed Fords in sight.

So, what now for the pajama guy? Rest, get used to America again, get a part-time job to pay the bills, work on becoming a free-lance writer. That should keep me busy for a while.

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