Monday, March 21, 2011

Flying the coop

My blog is in Japan (by the dates published), but the munsters and I are in Florida. After yochien graduation last Thursday, the US Navy sent out a voluntary evacuation order for family members in Japan following in the footsteps of the US State Department. From prior experience with "free military flights" including a forty-two hour travel evolution, multiple flights, and a lot of airport time, we opted for purchasing tickets for "spring break."

I attempted to buy tickets via the internet at least three times, but I kept getting kicked off of the site. Every time I got back to the site the ticket prices increased. I got a wee bit wound up. Taking one of those highly recommended deep breathes, I decided to first upload all of our passenger information and then attempt to buy the tickets. That seemed to be the solution. The spinner was spinning, the three tickets, the last of five available, appeared to be mine. And then, the electricity black out hit! I jumped, I hollered, "NO!" The mule burst into tears as she didn't understand why I was in such a stitch. Looking at the four hour blackout ahead, I knew those tickets would be gone. We called my mother-in-law, the do it master. The phone still worked. She was able to purchase them for us. Horray! We were set. When the electric returned so did the internet service and email. I found I had two sets of tickets for the USA. Some how that spinner got through on the other end. It ended up costing me $35.00 to cancel the second set of tickets, but since those had gone up a $1000.00, it seemed like a bargain. I then set about trying to determine how to get to the airport on time- the airport train was not running, the local train would not get us there in time, the Japanese bus service seemed too overwhelming with me having to hoof myself, the luggage, and two munsters. In the end, a friend offered to take us to the airport despite having had to wait six hours for gas! It was fortuitous as Ben ended up having to work- has to work everyday now- no weekend slacking. Thank goodness for friends!

Friday morning I set out to take care of a few details prior to our unplanned departure. Before we even got out of the house a friend, having received my about to depart email note, stopped by to say, "Goodbye." It hurt horribly. Really, we have no idea how things will turn out. She told me her sister was up north in a shelter- she is ok, but she can't get out and they don't have much food or water, but she is ok. So with a cracked open heart, we left to go to the shogakko elementary school to let them know that the mule would be missing the last week of the school year, but that we intended to return for the new school year in April, insha'Allah God willing. They understood. The office sensei speaks English and has been so helpful to me over the year, gave me a hug. I burst into tears. She was alarmed that I was crying in front of my children- you don't do this in Japan (except for those yochien graduations). I got it together, but in my heart I felt I was abandoning my friends for safer pasture, flying the coop. I told her that not crying in front of children was the Japanese way. This surprised her, I don't think she thought of it as a Japanese way, but as the way, but she understood. She found the mule's teacher, and we collected her school things and said goodbye. I forced my thoughts onto "I'll be back." That soothed me. We snapped a photo and continued on with our errands. I will think of that Friday as the day I weeped my way around Kamakura.

Saturday we began the journey to the States with a long car ride, a mind numbing plane ride, several in-flight movies, an excessive layover at Dulles, and finally arrival in Pensacola. Our long layover afforded us the chance to visit with friends in the DC area we had not seen in almost four years! A friend said, "Its as if no time has passed." I replied, "As it should be!" I was grateful for them being there. Life is always better with a few friends to cheer you along.

I sit at my mother's table here in Florida on a balmy Monday morning still in the fog of jet lag reading my friend's email messages and Facebook comments- grateful for the chance to visit and connect with my family. I have slid down to a lower level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I will return. I will find my thoughts again, but I need a few more days.