I covered this theme shortly after returning from Italy, albeit in a much different and hungrier way. But I think my techniques for coping with incredible trips have matured, so I’m back on this topic again.
It’s been about 3-and-a-half months since I’ve returned from the glorious, temple-strewn, too-good food-peddling, amazing-public-transit-having, culturally fascinating world I feel in love with back in March. With me being so quiet these days, you’d think I was fine.
EXCEPT I’M NOT. 🙁
After returning to the land of the free, home of the brave, etc., my crippling devastation was suppressed by my need to find a new job and recalibrate my life trajectory. That all sounds very intense, so I suppose I’ll reword it as “my need to start doing other things”. As a result of my efforts, I was finally able to find and start a new job at Cal State Long Beach about a month ago, which is ~*~super kewl~*~. I work a lot less than before while making a positive impact on my environment and those around me. I work on a beautiful campus that gives me a million and one places to read, write, and practice my iPhoneography (soon to be actual photography, god willing) during my breaks. The best part? I’m like, two miles from my home. TWO MILES. Obviously, I, the Goddess of Anti-Commuting, feel so incredibly satisfied about this.
Even as my life started to fall together correctly, I can’t help but long for the place that I had wanted to visit for 15 years and finally got the chance to only recently. I can’t help but think of the days that I would (willingly, mind you) wake up at 6:00 am, thirsty for a delicious cup of hot tea and hungry for my next adventure. True, this is how I am on every adventure, but the Japan-specific things were hitting my memory hard. The cobblestone streets of Higashiyama. The deer I spent a solid 30 minutes laying with and reading next to in Nara. The overwhelming bustle of Harajuku on a Sunday afternoon. The taste of the Owakudani eggs. Walking into my hotel room on Naoshima and thinking, “I CAN AFFORD THIS?!” The fleeting interactions I had with locals who seemed fascinated that, of all places, I chose their “tiny town” to visit, even though said town had more to offer to someone like me than they realize.
Oh man. Even writing this stuff is bringing me back.
Oddly, hyper-focusing on these good memories, rather than refusing to indulge in them out of sadness that they’re not my current reality, helps out a lot. It reminds that the experience was not only real, but that I made all of these memories happen. I alone booked that plane ticket at that pool in Vegas last year (yes, really), and I’m the one who made every choice single-handedly on that trip thereafter.
Another thing I’ve done recently is seek out Japan-like things virtually everywhere I go. Cooking Japanese food and reading manga are two examples of these, but given my new job, I felt that one particular item was even more appropriate. I mean, there’s a freaking Japanese garden at Cal State Long Beach. Ergo, I needed to visit it, DUH! Even though I almost died in a parking lot while trying to get there, it was like I had reached heaven once I got to it. Pictures will do infinitely more justice than my silly words. See below.
As far as what else I can personally recommend for extending the joy of a fabulous trip, should I make a list? I feel like that would make this more readable. After all, you’d probably appreciate that. I could do it. Let me try.
- As I already mentioned, think about your memories. Remember that you made something incredible happen for yourself. And if you didn’t plan it, then you have an amazing friend/family member/travel agent who helped you, so you’re quite blessed with either direct or indirect talent. Most importantly, remember that these memories are REAL.
- Do and seek out Japan-like (or France-like, or Australia-like, or South Africa-like) things that remind you of the trip. Find everything from museum galleries to food festivals, because they’re definitely out there. Fortunately, most of the Western world has become a pretty awesome melting pot and there are plenty of people interested in cultures beyond their own.
- Create some sort of photo collage or art piece that immortalizes the trip. Never forget it happened. Make this quick trip a nonetheless permanent part of your life.
- Brush up on the history of the area that you (hopefully) learned while you were there. Impress people. Be cultural and all that good stuff. But not pretentious. You went to a few museums, not the University of Douchedom.
- Drop a line to someone you met on the trip, if possible. Even as a sly introvert, I still managed to meet one young woman at Incheon Airport who I shared the adventure of finding a buffet with during my first layover. We exchanged Facebook addresses and like/comment on each other’s stuff here and there. Thanks to the magic of this technology, I have a connection with another awesome human who I can see when I return to Japan!
- Finally, take every other travel blog’s advice and get to planning that next trip! My significant other and I have flip-flopped between Bhutan, New Zealand, and various European locales for our first major trip as a couple. Even though it won’t happen until next year, it’s never too early to start planning!
Completely unrelated, I’m starting to learn web design in a little more depth, both for my job and for my non-work-related pursuits. I should get back to that. You’ll be hearing from me again soon.
p.s. This entry is exactly 1000 words.