Priorities: Or, “Yes, I Do Have Six Pounds of Almonds in My Checked Baggage”

As you may have gathered from a few mentions in my other recent posts, I returned to America in late May to fulfill maid of honor duty in my best friend’s wedding. I didn’t really inform anyone in Pittsburgh that I’d be coming back home, because I’d only be in town for five days, the wedding was going to take up most of my time, and any spare moment would be spent with my family, celebrating my sister’s nineteenth birthday, my grandparents’ fifty-second anniversary, and Memorial Day.

For the most part, my brief stint stateside was a success. Despite some unpredictable weather that had me scrambling for a change of venue only half an hour in advance, the bachelorette party and brunch went off without a hitch. My toast at the wedding, filled with many an Easter egg that spoke to the geeky nature of the bride and groom (as well as a good number of the younger attendees) was well-received with lots of laughter. I even caught the bouquet (though…I also caught it at a wedding two and a half years ago, and as of right now, the most important man in my life flies around the universe in a blue police box, so…obviously that wedding voodoo has not taken effect yet). To paraphrase Hades from Disney’s inimitableĀ Hercules, we danced, we ate, we schmoozed, we carried on, we went home happy.

And happy I was, until I unfortunately caught a stomach bug from one of the other bridesmaids the following day, which was Memorial Day. My entire family had planned to come out to my parents’ house for a cookout, and seeing them had been sort of my light at the end of the tunnel for the hectic weekend. Unfortunately, I found that tunnel blocked by a brick wall hastily erected (and covered in stomach bile…seriously, it wasn’t pretty). It was beyond frustrating to have all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents gathered downstairs, and being so sick that the only movement I could manage was dashing back and forth to the bathroom.

But, as my father put it, at least I got sick the day before I left America, rather than the day of my departure. Spending close to twenty hours on planes and trains while nursing a particularly nasty stomach bug would have been truly awful. Thankfully, though, I was feeling a bit better the next morning, enough so that I wasn’t too worried about my transit back to Aomori. And indeed, I got home without throwing up all over the guy checking my passport.

I joke about it now, but it was seriously a really infuriating ending to a short trip back home. I have no idea when I’ll return back to America to see my family again, so wasting a chance because of sickness was pretty disheartening to me…but at least I came back with lots and lots of goodies to stock my pantry.

When returning home from a trip, is there any sight worse than opening your suitcase (once meticulously packed and organized) and finding…this? Everything all crushed and packed into the bottom half of your luggage…so much for that pristine packaging of the chocolate-covered pretzels I brought back from my office.

Absolute chaos.
Absolute chaos. And yes, I use Hello Kitty duct tap as a makeshift baggage tag.

Thankfully, though, nothing was too badly smashed. And even if it had been, I likely wouldn’t have cared! Weeks before I came home, I’d sent my mum a shopping list for things I wanted from Costco, and my dad and I spent one morning going down pretty much every aisle in Giant Eagle. (Well…I shopped. I think it was more frustrating for him, because I was admittedly pretty scatterbrained when trying to find/remember everything I wanted.)

When I came back to Japan, both of my suitcases were filled to bursting with a seemingly random collection of food and health/beauty products. Whatever customs agent checked my bags probably thought I was nuts. Here’s my full haul:


A totally exhaustive list of things I brought back:

  • six pounds of almonds
  • six pounds of walnuts
  • two pounds of pecans
  • Neosporin
  • toothpaste
  • quinoa
  • flaxseed
  • xanthan gum
  • Twix, Butterfingers, Three Musketeers, and Reese’s Cups (for my English Club at school, not for me)
  • Sarris chocolate-covered pretzels (for my office)
  • chia seeds
  • Philosophy body wash
  • cooking spray
  • various spices
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • face wash
  • coffee syrup
  • four pounds of powdered peanut butter
  • two pounds of powdered chocolate peanut butter

My freezer is packed full of nuts, and my pantry and cabinets are better stocked than they have been in a long, long time. Admittedly, some of those things (like the nuts) are available here, but at shockingly high prices. For example, around two hundred grams of walnuts will cost me almost three dollars. And when it comes to bath products, I’d rather have something I’m really familiar with (and that I know won’t make my skin freak out).

So yeah…I brought lots of little pieces of America back home to Japan with me. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with keeping pieces of your first home around while you’re living in your second.

One thought on “Priorities: Or, “Yes, I Do Have Six Pounds of Almonds in My Checked Baggage””

  1. 4 lbs. of peanut butter powder…ok.

    Well, re your huge stash of home items: we gotta survive.

    It occurred to me: what would I bring???

    Hm…..Allenbury’s basic soap, Neutogena facial moisturizer (I just don’t want to deal with cosmetics which might react to my skin), cycling gloves that fit me, cycling shoes (I probably have to look hard in smaller Japanese cities to find them.), Raincoast cranberry, hazelnuts crackers, British Columbian smoked salmon, small bottle of maple syrup (it’s cheaper in Canada)…


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