Friday, October 17, 2014


*I am fully aware that I have so many things to catch up on, but I'm gonna go ahead and just write this anyways, because I feel like it. And that's how this whole shebang started in the first place.*

We have officially been without our things for two months. Two months ago, the packers and movers arrived and boxed up our whole lives. You know, minus the suitcases and carry-ons that we brought with us, which even though my mother in law claimed looked like enough stuff to be the Beverly Hillbilles, has been woefully sparse.

And then, we set off on our journey.

There have been so many exciting and "We are in Japan!" moments along the way. Trying to find our way about in just our "small" little town of Yokosuka, let alone our mini adventures to Yokohama, Kamakura and Tokyo, has been filled to the brim with a feeling of strange, new and happy adventures that only the new can bring.

All that being said, as a new friend very honestly admitted - thankfully - when we arrived, it is the little stuff that will creep up on you. And indeed, it has been the little stuff. Sure there have been bigger issues and stresses along the way - hello trying to close on a house while across the globe and in direct opposite of all business hours!

It's the little stuff that seems silly admitting, but the 8+ weeks without routine, or your things in a new country are…sort of crazy. Trying to get kids back to a routine when they haven't been on one since… July? and doing it without any of the things that make them feel "at home"? Not for the faint of heart.

Life without trashcans or a toaster, or a coffee maker…or even bath towels…let alone your own bed - also not for the faint of heart. It allows you a bunch of time, too much time, to focus on the little things making you feel uncomfortable in every day life.

{Especially when you just made everything in the last house perfect…and your new house has even more little things that you dislike and can't change. The transition from homeowner to "renter" is…tough for me.}

We have been so grateful for the things that do allow you to transition to this life a bit easier - loaner furniture from the Navy, Fleet and Family services having loaner kits with some plates and silverware and (very basic) cooking utensils. New friends. Being able to keep in touch with old friends. Lots of Skyping and Facetiming with family.

But there is nothing that will throw you for a loop like realizing that you are completely illiterate in a culture that seems to move at lightning speed. The Japanese language is comprised of three alphabets. With thousands of character combinations.

…None of which we recognize.

Thankfully, there is quite a bit of "Romaji" or romanized Japanese out in town - meaning that the Japanese words are written in familiar letters (to us) and we can sort of sound things out. This is especially helpful at train stations when identifying where to get on or off. Or you know, on road signs when driving about out in town on the left side of the road. Yikes!

The Japanese people have all been so friendly, and we have learned a handful of terms to help us get through without feeling like we are impeding upon too many folks.

But it is completely surreal to look around and realize that you now live in a country where you cannot even sound out signs. Ha!

There has been quite a bit of progression on the cultural adjustment spectrum.

But it hasn't just been adjusting to Japanese culture. There has also been an interesting transition to immersed military culture. For a girl who hasn't lived on a military base since she was seven years old - over twenty years ago, mind you - it has been…interesting.

I have been so grateful that there are such a collection of women ready and willing to embrace and be open to new friendships. We are all in the same boat, after all…or rather our spouses are, haha! Navy joke! There have been social clubs that have had plenty of introductory events right on the timeline of us arriving which has also been wonderful.But as we were just discussing the either day - every thing you try to do, is a "thing", or quickly becomes one.

There are no choices for anything, and I am spoiled by a culture of choices. There is one commissary (even though I have begun doing a bunch of food shopping off base) and it may or may not carry your favorite food items or brands. Varies by day. There is one post office. And the hours are wonky. And you have to go there to pick up your mail because there is no delivery service. Which means that with kids in tow, something as simple as picking up your mail seems…daunting.

Many places on base only accept cash (which is super common in town, Japan is a cash based economy - Dave Ramsey's dream) - and some places only accept American dollars rather than US currency or Japanese currency. Which means my wallet is constantly filled with a mixture of paper and coins that may or may not go together. For a girl who has been a religious debit card user…pretty much my entire life…this has been a tough hoop to jump through.

All offices seem to take a lunch break and close down at the same time…and they all close by 4. Before A left for the ship we remarked and reflected so many times that it was a good thing indeed I wasn't planning on working while being here, because everything "business" related for a family has to occur during working hours.

That being said - base life is so convenient in many, many ways. There are like 200 playgrounds on this tiny little stretch of land, and the kids and I have visited almost all of them. There are some comforts of home, including a Starbucks (which of course only takes cash, isn't Gold Card member compatible and does not have pumpkin spice lattes - I'm holding out hope for a Peppermint Mocha come winter. Cross your fingers for me!).

As in the rest of life, there are plenty of pros (Japanese foods! The sushi y'all. Wow. New cultural experiences! Adventure around every turn!) and cons (being far from family, no Target, language barriers) but it is all part of the adjustment and experience.

As we let go of some of our routine comforts, the adjustment becomes easier. I think it will be aided even further by finally being able to begin feeling "at home" when our belongings arrive early next week - the dorm lounge loaner furniture, while immensely appreciated, can only go so far in making you feel cozy and well rested.

In any case, we are here, and we are adjusting. We are finding ourselves more and more comfortable on and off base. Making small strides here and there. Not being too hard on ourselves.

Just trying to keep the creeping at bay, by recognizing the small stuff, acknowledging and moving on so that we have the capacity to enjoy all the opportunity at our fingertips.

Evelyn Rae is 3, Liam is 1.5 and I am 18.5 weeks along with Baby G3

…and there is certainly more adventure to come.

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