I caught a cold on the flight home a few days ago. My throat really hurts, and now my nose is stuffy. This house is so cold.
I went out with friends twice this week. I was happy to see everyone again, but I feel like it hasn’t been that long since I last saw them anyway, so I didn’t feel different. I don’t feel different being here because I’m still trying to remember everything that happened while I was in Japan.
My best friend was driving me home this morning around 3 a.m., and when I check my phone I realize that I have messages and missed calls. My parents. They were checking up on me, apparently. This was one of the things that I wasn’t looking forward to coming back. Compared to life by myself in Tokyo, living here with my parents in a suburb where driving is the primary mode of transportation is like living in a cage. I have to get used to calling my parents again when I’m out late or something, which of course I never had to do for the 11 months before. If I want to go somewhere, I can’t leave whenever I want and hop on the next train like I used to; I have to look at the bus schedule and see when the next bus is coming. They only come around every thirty minutes. Not only that, but the buses around the neighborhood don’t run between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., so going out in the middle of the day is out of the question.
Sounds ridiculous, right? But this is what everyday life is for me at home. It’s easy to see why living in Japan was so much easier for me. I was so stressed here. I told this to all of the hosts that asked why I didn’t like Maryland compared to Tokyo: my life in Maryland is nothing but going to class and coming home. Sure, most of my days were like that during my two semesters at Rikkyo too, but at least I had the choice of going out, especially on the weekends.
The regular bus here that runs on weekdays don’t run on Saturdays. Nothing runs on Sundays. Last train home left Ikebukuro at around 12:45a.m., while the last bus to get home from New Carrollton (on weekdays) is at 7:15p.m.
“That’s why you need to learn to drive,” people tell me. You don’t understand how much I loathe the idea of driving. For me, there’s no freedom in driving. It’s not like hopping on a train and going joy-riding to see where it takes you. If I want to drive, I need to know where I want to go. If I want to drive, I need to have a car. Cars are very expensive. Maintenance is expensive. I constantly hear my friends complain about the next stupid thing that happened with their car, or how they have to buy gas for it all the time, or how they almost got into an accident because of some idiot on the road. If I want to drive, I have to focus on the road. I don’t want to talk to people while I’m driving. Or eat while driving. I can’t play Nintendo DS while I’m driving.
It’s absolutely absurd how American transportation revolves around cars. When GM came crashing down, they got bailed out by the government. Meanwhile, one train collides into another on the Red Line in D.C., and we learn later in the news that Metro’s equipment was long overdue for maintenance, which probably wasn’t done because they don’t have a lot of money.
What has the U.S. government done for public transportation? Nothing, when you put it side-to-side with the car companies. What good does do other than “create jobs,” when these days everyone buys Japanese and German cars anyway?
I’m not trying to sound anti-American or a pro-Japanese freak. I look at things for what they are. A lot of people who have never had experience overseas don’t understand that the United States is very far behind when it comes to innovation. Everything here is about money, money, money. Oh well, at least we’ve got great computers. Japan doesn’t need them because they have awesome phones. And robots.
On the bright side, I had a huge lemon-filled doughnut yesterday.