The Longest Day

Monday was probably the longest day of my life, literally and figuratively. It lasted I think 38 hours (literally) and involved four flights with two babies across the world’s largest ocean (figuratively).

Leaving Japan, for now. Mata ne.

But we are home and there’s no place like it. We left Okinawa at 11 am and were back in Lawrence by midnight. The boys were troopers; Pete ate and slept and Chip didn’t break down until the flight from LA to Dallas, and I let him. He deserved it, and only spent about a half-hour sobbing on the floor (despite the fasten-seatbelt-light being on). People were remarkably tolerant, and for that I am very thankful. The China Airlines (just one of the fine carriers we flew) stewardesses lined up to take pictures with him and slipped him an extra roll and apple juice at breakfast. Our transpacific flight flew into LA, which I’ve never done before. It fulfilled my expectations of looking like the opening credits of “The Hills,” and we even flew past the Hollywood sign. The air was clear and bright and it was a random and sunny welcome back home.

Chip enjoys his last few moments of being a novelty.

Now I’m here I don’t know what to do with myself. There’s a mountain of navy paperwork to keep me busy, of course (today I had the novel experience of registering as an “evacuee” with the US government), but anything else has proved to be a challenge. It is so wonderful to be with my family and so strange to think about the way I left my life. I don’t even think I took the trash out as I left my house… I am so happy to be home and relatively free from worry, but I feel a little bit like I ran away. The Japanese can’t leave, after all. And I have no idea what the future holds. I want to go back to my little Hayama life, have everything just like it was, and say good-bye properly this summer as planned. And I would love to see my husband sometime in the near future. But things have changed and I don’t know if I can drag two little boys back across that ocean. I am, as they say, at sea.

It’s not like I have to decide tomorrow, I guess. The past few weeks have been so full of big decisions that I feel like I have to make another one soon. I should just stop and enjoy what’s left of March in Kansas, and be so thankful I have a home to which to go. And be thankful that that home is probably the least likely in the world to get a tsunami.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. marcia roberts
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 05:14:08

    welcome home, alden. i’ve been watching ‘wattsabi’ hoping you would come…your world has been turned upside down! i would love to meet your sweet boys! could i take you and your boys for tea and a bowl of noodle soup? or could i offer a visit at our place? please call when you feel like a visit.


  2. Betsy Gluten Freedom
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:26:16

    So glad to have you home safely! Enjoy a weekend of March Madness in real time and Uncle Fungus playing with the little ones. (Well, not at the same time.)


  3. elaney
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 12:06:42

    wow! i love reading your story. betsy has kept me posted – you are an inspiring woman. and i love your caption about chip being a novelty! funny.


  4. Katie Condon
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 22:31:10

    Alden, after all you have been through I am sure it will take a while to process it all. Meanwhile, enjoy the time surrounded by family to help you and let you bond peacefully with little Pete! We love you so much and it brings great peace of mind to all of us to know that you are safe, and we will continue to keep the Japanese people in our thoughts and prayers.


  5. Huck
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 13:41:35

    I am glad you three made it to Kansas–what a marathon that must have been. Once you get settled I’d love to chat with you. If you’re going to be around for a while… maybe I can come see you? Enjoy being with your familia and touch base when you can….

    Much love.


  6. Maggie Fieger
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 18:44:42

    Welcome home Alden, Chip and Pete! Enjoy being with your family and let some of the pressure off of you. Please come visit Chapter JC while you are here – we’d love to see you!


  7. Marianne Stana
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 23:32:03

    Hi Alden-I have been thinking of you, Rob and your precious little guys! Take time to relax (if that is possible with 2 young boys) and take one day at a time. I do hope that you will see Rob soon. Please tell him the Dan just had the Sable worked on! 🙂 Ready for the race! Blessings to all-Marianne


  8. Aunt Connie
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 01:06:04

    Close your eyes, clicks three times, and say ” There is no place like home, there is no place like home”.

    They don’t make red shoes for nothing… All my love-Aunt Connie


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