In English we say “I miss you.” In French however you would say “Tu me manque” to express the same emotion. Translated this means not “I miss you” but rather “You are missing from me.” This is a linguistic difference that I love. I feel it more accurately conveys the depths of emotion I feel often when I think of my family.
We make a kickass team, my family and I, and when I’m away from them I always feel there is a part of me missing. Or rather maybe a better metaphor is not that they are missing from me, but rather imagine a beautiful jigsaw puzzle that lacks completion because one single tiny piece of the puzzle is only god-knows-where, and I am that lonely little puzzle piece missing from the puzzle.
It has been 895 days since I first arrived in Japan. The two and a half years I have been living here teaching English is undeniably one of the most life changing decisions I have ever made. I’m a very strong and independent young woman, but I would be lying if I said this was something I could have accomplished without the support of my family. Their never-ending, bottomless love gave me the strength to live miles away from the life I knew. Without question my mum, dad and younger brother are the thing I miss most. I miss the every day little moments, the way they accept me unconditionally for who I am and how I can simply be myself when I am with them. I knew that after 2 Christmases spent a whole world apart that Christmas 2013 and New Years Eve 2014 needed to be celebrated with my family. So that’s exactly what we did. We met halfway between Canada and Japan in sunny Hawaii and had ourselves a “Maui little Christmas” which was lovely.
My dad loved his gift, a Sapporo brewery t-shirt from my holidays in Hokkaido.
And I absolutely loved my Christmas present from my brother. A wrap-around Chan Luu bracelet which I had been eyeing over when we went shopping earlier that week. He knows me so well, he couldn’t have picked a better gift!
We spent a very uncharacteristic snow-less Christmas at the beach and finished up with a nice night out around the Black Rock area of the island, which is full of swanky restaurants and bars overlooking the water.
Then for Christmas dinner, thanks to a recommendation from my friend Denea when she visited Japan earlier this year, we went to the famous Hawaiian restaurant Roy’s. The food was to die for. The restaurant itself was a little noisier than we had expected, somehow I imagined a more subdued atmosphere in my mind, but the blacked ahi tuna more than made up for the noise. The chocolate souffle disappeared so fast no photo was ever taken, but it was a family favorite.
In Maui, our days were very simple and relaxing. Every day we woke up early, before the heat set in, to play tennis then headed back to the condo for breakfast. After, we would go to whichever beach had the best weather for reading, swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, playing backgammon or playing smash ball. Perfection.
We rented a couple paddle boards and I loved it! I had never paddle boarded before and it was really fun and standing up wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had expected. Perhaps that’s due to my many years of snowboarding… Either way it was an activity that I would highly recommend.
I did a lot of reading this vacation. It was something I really missed from when I was younger. When I was little I was a real bookworm of a kid. I read at every opportunity, and when I was in trouble my punishment was that my book was taken away. Yeaaaah, I was that kind of kid.
As I got older life got busier and busier, these days I rarely have an entire day to myself that I can devote to reading. In Maui however, I read over 15 books in 2 weeks! I devoured them the same way Cookie Monster would probably devour cookies after being on a diet. Thank heavens I have a Kindle e-reader or my suitcase would have been filled to the brim with books.
Then every night we would return to the condo around 4:30 to clean up, grab a mojito and watch the sunset. We didn’t miss a single one.
My favourite memory of the trip was walking along a beach near the northern tip of the island after visiting the quaint little town of Paia for a little (or in my case, a lot of) shopping. My mom and I took a stroll to get a closer look at some of the surfers (who were freaking incredible). We noticed a lot of people taking a lot of pictures at one end of the beach so we wandered over and looked at the rocks past the barrier that had been erected but we didn’t see much. We looked at each other in confusion, raised an eyebrow, shrugged our shoulders and promptly went back to watching the surfers. Two young tourists stepped over the boundary holding their cameras ready, and likity-split a local rushed over and asked them to please come back to the other side. Curious…
We looked closer at the rocks, wondering to ourselves what was up (perhaps it was dangerous?) when suddenly, I saw a “rock” move. Camouflaged amongst the rocks were giant sea turtles taking a sunny afternoon snooze on the beach!!! A true OMG moment if there ever was one.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I completely freaked out and pointed at the nearest turtle to my mom and exclaimed “TURTLE!” while practically jumping for joy, at which point she freaked out and ran back for the camera. We were mesmerized, even though they were pretty boring to watch while sleeping, because there were lots and lots of them! There were big turtles and little turtles, all of whom were happily napping, and we hadn’t even noticed them when we first looked over.
So two weeks later I return to Japan ever-so-slightly tanned, relaxed, well-read, rejuvenated, more than a little homesick, and broke beyond belief after spending all my money on food goodies and new clothes (hey! I haven’t gone shopping in 2.5 yeaaaaars!). I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful family to call mine, and I am so thankful for everything my family did to make this holiday special. It meant the world to be with them, something they know very well.
I have 7 months remaining before I return home, and while I am eager for the day I step back on Canadian soil for good (at least for a little while before the next adventure) I’m also determined to make these last 7 months in Japan the best yet. 2014 get ready for some amazing adventures, I’m ready!