As much I love living in Japan, I have to admit that I’m positively itching to spend two weeks back in America for the holidays. Of course, this is mostly because I’ll have gone a year and a half without seeing my friends and family in person, and if this post were about my emotional checklist, “giving every family member and friend I meet massive bear hugs” would be at the top. But this post is purely about the physical stuff. Since I’ve only got two weeks at home, and a large portion of it will be spent shackled to my family for the holidays, I’ve found myself starting to compile a “to do” list of things it’s imperative I accomplish while in Pittsburgh.
1. Drive. I haven’t gotten behind the wheel of a car in over a year at this point, and though the bullet train will always be my favorite form of transportation, I cannot wait to drive a car again. I don’t need to have one here, nor have I had any desire to invest in one just for the sake of convenience. However, that does not stop me from getting wistful every time I watch Top Gear. I fully expect to have to pry the car keys from my father’s overprotective, unwilling fingers when I’m home, but I’ll do it even if I have to pass an impromptu driving test beforehand, if only to show I remember which side of the road to drive on.
2. Get a new tattoo. First off, getting a tattoo in Japan isn’t exactly high on the list of activities sanctioned by the public. (Plus, there’s always the chance that a student or coworker will see me, and I’ve managed to keep my inked status under wraps thus far.) Though there’s a shop in a nearby city that I could go to, I’m holding off on getting a third tattoo so that I can go to the shop that did my second, as the new one will be a continuation/companion of that. I’ve never looked forward to a pain-filled, three-hour session this much before.
3. Spend obscene amounts of money at Target. Oh my god, I miss Target. There’s not really anything that even compares to Target here, and I cannot wait to peruse the red circle-adorned aisles and buy stuff that I spontaneously decide that I absolutely can’t live without. Added bonus: I’ll actually be able to read every single label and know exactly what I’m buying!
4. Ditto for Sephora. Consider this the stereotypical feminine item on this list. My skin is a far cry from the Asian variety. I cannot wait to buy foundation and concealer that is actually made for my skin type.
5. Eat at Olives & Peppers. Olives & Peppers is a tiny little Italian restaurant five minutes from my house with some of the best food I’ve eaten in any country, and I was a frequent enough patron that they’d know my order anytime I’d go in. My mouth is already watering at the thought of devouring their linguini pallini with a glass of Riesling and then forcing myself to eat a piece of tiramisu, even though my stomach will already be close to bursting.
6. Buy clothes and shoes that actually fit. Okay, so I guess I’ll have two stereotypical feminine items. I can’t wait to buy clothing that actually fits me. This especially goes for pants. In Japan, I’m pretty much an Amazon who towers over everyone else, and any shopping trip inevitably ends in frustration and borderline rage in a dressing room.
7. Have a Netflix marathon. Indulging in regular Netflix marathons was a favorite pastime of mine. It’s how I worked through four seasons of Doctor Who in four days and watched dozens of Top Gear episodes last summer. Sadly, it doesn’t exist in Japan. I fully plan on parking my butt on our family couch at least once and not moving till I’ve watched at least five episodes of the antics of The Hamster, Jezza, and Captain Slow.
8. Spend a day at the movie theater. Going to the movies (and devouring butter-soaked popcorn) was a weekly activity in America, but in Japan, I’ve only gone once. Much of that has to do with the fact that films are often released weeks (or months) behind their wide releases in America. To get an idea how much this annoys me, consider this: in order to avoid waiting until August, when it would be released in Japan, I specifically picked a location for my May vacation (Hong Kong) that would allow me to see The Avengers as close to the American release as possible. Plus, the snack situation in Japan is basically nonexistent.
9. Make plans without saying “your time” or “my tomorrow.” Scheduling stuff with people in separate time zones is a nightmare. Any time I tell a friend that I’m going to call them, it inevitably turns into confusion because I forgot to clarify that I would call on “my” Saturday, not theirs.
10. Be American. And by that, I don’t mean in the stereotypical sense, as in I’ll be loud, obnoxious, etc. I know that I’ve developed a Japanese version of myself, where I’m quieter and more apologetic. I can’t wait to truly be myself around friends and family without worrying that it’s going to overstep a cultural line.