Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Ordinary Everyday

My parents and sister just came back from a week trip to Egypt. I got a text message from mom who had just arrived at Narita Airport, which read, simply, "we are back."

For the past one week, I was more worried for them than I wanted to allow myself, which I didn't realize until I got that message on my cell phone. I was at work. I was about to head out to get my lunch. I saw "mom" in the sender's box, and I wanted to cry.

When I made the decision to return to Japan two and a half years ago, my prominent reason was my family; for dad who had fallen ill. He had a cerebral hemorrhage two years prior. He was a vegetable for a half year, every day of which the rest of us was prepared for the worst. I made 4 trips a year to my home land to be a support for not just dad, but for mom, bro, and sis who had to live their everyday life with him as a center of their attention. He got better and moved from a hospital to another, and eventually came back home. But he became a completely new person.

My return to Japan was probably the first choice I have made in my life that was not for myself. It hurt me to think that I would have to leave all that I had and to stop what I had been working for. But it hurt me more to think of not choosing to.

I knew it would be a challenge for me to be living in Japan after 12 years of being away from it; it would take a bit of adjustment and I would miss the life I led in the northern America. But I really wasn't ready for feeling so completely lost. Everything I did and had in my new life seemed too surreal to conceive of for a long, long time. Work. Friends. Even family. At first it was OK. It felt like an extended summer break in a foreign land. But after about a half year, when the idea that I was here for good at least for the foreseeable future sank in, I started having problems. Problems with sense of self. Or absence of it.

I moved out of my parents' house a year ago. I do go back there on my day off, though, twice a week. I am saner around my family that way. I needed the loophole to stay as nice to them as I wanted and intended to be. Sometimes, the closeness between you and the people you care so much for can bring many uninvited conflicts and it can hurt both parties, let alone wear them out.

When mom decided she is taking dad to Egypt this summer, I flipped and told her off for being crazy. He is much, much better compared to two years ago, yes, but the former mathematician can't even speak in a language any of us understands. But mom thought, since Egypt was the only place he had ever told her he wanted to go in his life time, - and he never requested anything else in his life, really, she should take him while he still has the chance. "He isn't getting any better than he is now," she told me before she left. "Anything happens to him, at least he has seen what he had wanted to for the past 60 years of his life." My sister, a doctor, decided to tag along, which made me feel a bit better. They left last Saturday. I felt OK. I was happy for dad.

I went back to the empty house on Tuesday to feed the koi in the front yard pond and water mom's garden. I found a note left on the kitchen counter. It wasn't even a letter or a message. Mom had left bro and me where to find the documents of her bank accounts and insurance and everything that might be required in case...

In case...

I stood by the pond and fed the fish. Looking at their eager mouths on the surface of the water, I started feeling like running, like I couldn't stay there still. Like I had to be doing something productive. Something meaningful. Something worthy. Anything. Anything that would magically make dad be safe in the Egyptian desert of sand and heat. In a place without me being fucking there to render my shoulder for him as he walked limping.

Sometimes, it takes being away from your beloveds to realize the value of having an ordinary everyday, even if that ordinary everyday is something you gave so much up for in the first place to have. And it scares you shitless when the beloveds leave you right where you are and go out of your reach. Because that's when you realize the impact that will be dropped on you if you lose that ordinary everyday that you take for granted.

And today, I feel like I have regained at least a part of sense of my self that I thought I had lost.

By the way, sis brought back a chart for the Hieroglyphic alphabet, which I found very intriguing.

Until next time,


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