Wednesday, November 05, 2008


In one more month it'll be two years since I moved out of the United States.

Autumn is lovely in Frankfurt. There's something about the way the leaves turn an earthen red and the air gets just brisk enough to wake you up. The neighborhood I live in is quiet and residential and it reminds me of the town I grew up in New Jersey. Every day I walk to work and I pass by this elementary school. I see the kids riding their bikes with their little backpacks as their school day starts. Today deja vu happened upon me. It was like I was watching myself out there. I don't know much but I do know this: today, two years sank in.

When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was a Tom Hanks film called "Big". If you've never seen it Tom Hanks plays a kid who grows up in the suburbs of New Jersey and wishes he could be an adult. He gets his wish and for a while it's great - he parties, he eats what he wants, he scores a hot girlfriend. But at a certain point Tom wishes he could be a kid again. He visits the town he fled, and looks at it, this time through the eyes of an adult on a brisk autumn day. He sees the life he's missing out on - football games, class pictures, riding bikes through tree lined streets as autumn leaves whisp gently onto the pavement.

They shot that movie about 20 miles from my town. "Big" kinda looks a lot like where I grew up - which is to say it looks a lot like where I live now. When I see these kids in Frankfurt, it's somewhere between going back in time and watching a movie and it captivates me and I stare watery-eyed. Eventually the BMW behind me honks it's horn and the driver starts yelling at me in German. Reality hits me like a coffee table on the shins. I live in a foreign country far away from home. I move on.

Everything is so weirdly familiar here - it messes with my brain.

I'm homesick. It comes and it goes but something about this time of year really makes me want to be home. I'm not proud of this. I've spent a lot of the past two years mocking Americans who have never left the country. I also have this self-image of myself as this international guy - born Japanese, raised in America, educated in Europe, worked all over the world. Another word for someone like me might be "multi-national". Another word might be "arrogant dick".

It's times like these when I see those kids on the street here in Frankfurt two things run through my brain: one - I hope no one mistakes me for a pervert, and two - no matter how hard I try I'm always going to be from New Jersey.

Which is not actually a good thing. New Jersey is often regarded as the armpit of America. This mostly has to do with the physical shape of the United States. If the north-eastern coast looked like a great arm extending out into the Atlantic, then Main would be the torch of freedom. New Jersey would be where the sweat glands are. We people from New Jersey cling to our sports like testicles to a scrotum. We have a daily paper whose sports section is bigger than the rest combined. The irony is, none of them are our sports teams. They're all from New York. Great.

I don't care. I miss New Jersey. It's where my heart is. I feel like Tom Hanks - like a kid who grew up too fast and wishes he could go home. I wonder if I'm the first person in history to feel this emotion.



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