Going home to family and friends


It’s been quite a long time

It had been 11 years since I was home the last time in Eastern Pennsylvania. I had moved out to LA in late 2004 for a year and a half and had since moved up the the Bay Area. The reason for going home to family and friends was first and foremost to be at my sisters wedding. It of course was also the perfect time to take my wife with me as she had yet to meet everyone in the family, as well as see Pennsylvania and where I grew up as a boy. We didn’t have a whole lot of time in PA as we were also planning on seeing NYC for a few days. So we made a plan got on a plane and went. The flight was uneventful with the exception of a lighting show off the starboard side of the plane when we got into the vicinity of the New York area. I had never seen a lighting storm from a plane before, it was quite spectacular.

The wedding was great. Perfect summer PA weather with just the right amount of humidity and sun. Held at a small bed and breakfast it was an intimate experience with family and friends. I’ve not seen my sister smile like that in years, it was a wonderful moment for her and her new husband. My aunt and uncle were there along with my niece and nephews. My brother also rose to the occasion which was pretty exceptional. I hadn’t seen any of them for 11 long years. My mother and niece were however out in Cali 5 years ago. It’s kind of weird now thinking about it as the trip was just last week, and so long in between before that. I promised, as my siblings had, we wouldn’t wait so long next time. My wife was a bit out of place there being the only asian on tap but they all made her feel like one of the family. I come from a super small town with little diversity.


Surfing in Bolinas California


Surfing is Addictive

I love to surf. Can’t be any simpler than that. I found surfing a number of years ago while on vacation in Oahu, Hawaii. I had been in Hawaii a couple times already but this was my first visit to Oahu and with that, a visit there isn’t complete until you head to the North Shore. It was January at the time and the winter storms from the north in the Pacific Ocean were slamming the northern part of the island and it was going off, as surfers like to say. I remember stopping the car on the side of the road and running across the street to see what everyone else was stopped for and looking at. There it was in all it’s glory, the power of the ocean and the people trying to tame it. It was an amazing site. It was one of those moments which don’t come often in life that when you see something, you know you have to do it. I immediately felt it was something I just had to experience for myself.

Fast forward to today I am still surfing and will continue to until I die or am debilitated to the point where I can’t move anymore. It’s that powerful of a driving force in me to want to continue. There’s something about that direct connection with nature that I have yet to find anywhere else personally. I got my wife to try surfing with me once, but she didn’t like it as she felt too claustrophobic in the wetsuit. Which is understandable if you don’t like tight fitting items on your body. Surfing in Northern California you need to wear a wetsuit all year as the temperature, depending on where you go, is from the low 50’s to the mid 60’s if your lucky. The summer months here are typically colder than other times during the year due to the fog that rolls in just about daily. It isn’t until late in the summer that you get a few consistent days of solid warmer air temperatures. Southern California has warmer water temperatures but also suffers from the summer fog months. It’s also a very dangerous sport. My wife doesn’t like the fact that you can get held under the water by even the smallest of waves, and if you panic, well you just can’t allow yourself to panic.


Public bath? I have to think about that.


Onsen ritual

Of the many things I was able to experience while in Japan, can’t wait go to back by the way, was the public bath. My wife told me long before we went that she had expected me to participate in this ritualistic event. This was the first time I was to meet her entire family so we, had to take a bath together? Of course I had asked many questions about what it was like and what I had to do. And of course being American, was anyone going to see my penis? I don’t make a habit of showing just anyone. She teased the hell out of me about my questions of course. She kept telling me that more than likely, they had probably wanted to check out my penis. Not in any weird way, but to just “see it”. A particular day while driving around in Japan with the family we had passed by a bathhouse and we turned around to go back. I asked what was going on and my wife said “We just passed a bathhouse so we are going.”. I was half asleep in the car at the time but woke quickly and asked “Right now? As in we are going now? I am not mentally ready for this!”. Her parents laughed at me and thought I was being a child so we waited.

Needless to say I was nervous about it. The reason she expected me to participate is that we all were to go to Onsen for a couple days. Onsen is the Japanese term for a hot spring or even more to the point a bathhouse inn or as such fed by a hot spring. Technically however I don’t think all bathhouses are fed by a hot spring only onsen. There are many bathhouses scattered all over the place. Mostly easy to spot just because, to me anyway, they had this indoor pool type of building familiarly about them.


Communication breakdown


Japanese communication breakdown

Knowing my wife now for a number of years, I think we dated for two years first before being married for five, we still have yet to get past the communication breakdown problem. I say this as my wife is first generation Japanese in the U.S. She had lived here for a number of years before we met. She was actually married once before and lived in NYC for quite some time while working for Kirin Ichiban as an assistant to executives. During her time here in the U.S. she hadn’t, and still really hasn’t, taken the time to work on her pronunciation of English. She is completely fluent in reading and writing English but her speech leaves much to be desired at times. Further more she tends to mix words up along with their meanings leaving me to scratch my head in misunderstanding.

I’ll do my best here to give you a few examples of what some of our communications are like. The other week we were getting in the car to go somewhere. As I was getting in the car she said to me, well what I thought, was “deer”. We live on a wooded hillside and have deer prancing around all the time. So naturally thinking she said “deer” I half close the door and look for it. I turn to her and say “I don’t see it.”. She says back to me “Stop playing games, DEER!”. I of course again look back over my shoulder and then look back at her and say “Um yeah there is nothing there.”. By this time she is fuming and I can tell. She again says “Deer!” while pointing at the mirror of the car door. “Oh” I say, “MIRROR and not DEER.”. Oh that was a crazy one that day. Pretty much the rest of the day we were talking about how I have a hard time understanding her pronouncing of certain words and that I wasn’t screwing with her, I thought she was really saying deer.