I’m sitting at a small restaurant next to gate 22 in Narita Airport’s Terminal 1. The queue to board the flight before mine is impressive in its length and orderliness. The beer is cold if airport-pricy. The seat is soft if not exactly comfortable. There is no power, so I will shift to another outlet-sporting spot as soon as it frees up.
Why am I here? After three years of living in Japan I am heading back the States.
Let me pause here while I do some light repacking and grab another bi-ru.
Back. New seat with power. Charging. I dropped my multiport charger somewhere along the way. The more valuable power cord that accompanies it is still in my possession, so yea! I’m repacked for boarding the plane and taking my seat. I got headphone and my snack/meal replacement on deck. I need to get some water for my packable bottle and I’m good until Atlanta.
My residency ends today. My visa expires. I’m still with IBM Japan, just doing so from the US. Turns out there is a client meeting in the US next week, so my going now lines up well with that. I have little time to relax before I hit the road again, and then travel the week after that as well. I sent the request to the travel team while I wait to find out the approvals process for this.
I nodded off on the drive to Narita. My buddy Tetsuya very kindly drove me from Shinjuku to the airport after a lovely pork ramen lunch. Our conversation was fun, but we hit a lull and I … just closed … my eyes … for zzzzzzz. Tets showed up to my place early, while I was going to meet the property manager for the walk thru and key hand-off. I was packed, had a cart to help me cart 5(!) bags down, and just needed to drop some trash off in the garbage room. I signed in a few spots, paid for my trash tickets as some pieces were bigger than 30cm, and then thanked the entire staff for all of their help. It is not an exaggeration to say my stay would not have been as successful without the concierge staff.
I think my charger might be at security. Or in Niheiさん’s car. His vehicle, like Youqing’s car, is an older model without all of the modern bells and whistles. Sure, some things don’t work any more – automatic door locks and window controls, as examples. They are not core to the function of the car. It was a great help that Tetsuya drove me. I can’t imagine – correction, choose not to imagine – having to navigate Shinjuku Station with five (!) bags.
1.5 of my five bags, roughly 25% of my storage capacity, consists of presents – to me and from me. Everyone was so generous and great and friendly in Japan. I made a lot of friends, and I am grateful for them. I’m more than a bit humbled by the experiences of the last three weeks, let alone the last three years. What a great group of friends, inside of IBM and out. Like Youqing, for example.
We hadn’t seen each other for several weeks. I went to Okinawa, she and her family went to Nikko. I got busy and stressed with relocation and thus had a hard time making time. Last weekend was aborted due to illness (mine), so Saturday after the last bit of furniture that I sold was carted off, she came over and laid claim to the best of what was left.
As an aside, the advantage of buying good quality furniture – even for only three years – is that when you go to sell there is a market. Buying was way cheaper than renting, and people paid me to haul it away when I was done with it. Any money I made was a bonus, not the objective of the exercise. Search for “sunk cost” if you want a deeper dive.
Youqing took me to a BOOKOFF in Kawasaki, far enough outside of Tokyo that it has actual space to walk around. She was planning to sell some old Nerf kit from her boys as well as some clothes, but ended up saving the fun quotient for the next big garage sale where she lives. I got ¥710 for my remaining IKEA furniture, had to take back some home appliances, and I got ¥16,000 for my Dell 27″ monitor! That is almost what I paid for it, so basically I ended up borrowing it for three years. While we waited for our appraisals we walked across the street to an inexpensive, poorly serviced, but high quality merry-go-round sushi place in a mall. The grilled salmon with mayonnaise melted in the mouth and the fatty tuna was both tender and delicious. We had a great time before heading back to the BOOKOFF in the brisk chill of mid November.
Which reminds me, I no longer have a winter coat. It is about -10ºC in Chattanooga compared to Tokyo, so I will need to address this before long – especially with the Boston work trip on the early horizon. I kept my thermal underwear and one sweater. I have boots, my cool-as-in-awesome hiking boots. I had to donate my Been Boots as I have no room in my bags. The Thinsulate was wearing a bit thin, so planning for a new pair is worthwhile.
I really don’t want to add to my kit if I can avoid it unless it’s an upgrade where I can swap something else out or have a critical need. I already bowed to emotion and joy sparking for my books, which I shipped on the slow boat at a cost that exceeds what I spent in acquiring the books. They do spark joy for me. Some movies and CDs I’d bought did, too, but I ripped them. A good thing, as I had no space for them.
That’s it for now, this stream of nonsense account of the last little bit. See you on the flip side.

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