I’ve been feeling this way for a while. It creeps up suddenly – I’ll be minding my own business, and then I’m hit with a strong desire to be back where I always felt I most belonged. I long for the small-town community that I came to enjoy, for the place that I made for myself in that community. I miss the friends I made there, the people I worked with, my daily routine.

I miss Japan. To be specific, I miss Moriya, that little town so close to Tokyo I could spend a day there but still far enough away to maintain its country-side charm.

I’m happy here in San Antonio. I’m making a life here with a husband whom I adore more than anyone else in this world. And I know that he would understand what I mean when I say how much I miss Japan, how I miss the people and the food and the atmosphere and the beauty.

Last year, I was thankful for a Florida autumn, for the prevalent sunshine and the warmth and the closeness of family and friends. This year, I find that I miss Japanese autumn. Here in Texas, as in Florida, the changing of the seasons is a rocky course. This week, for the first time this season, the temperature highs have dipped into the 60’s. Next week, they’ll be back up to the 80’s. I may not miss the snow that comes with Japanese winter, but I miss the steadier march of the seasons, the gradual slide of summer into autumn. The seasons leave their marks on Japan, in the greenery of summer that warms and brightens into fall foliage, only to dull as winter approaches. I miss the cultural embracing of the seasons – I always loved that the spring and autumn equinoxes were national holidays.

Even though I was clearly a foreigner, I always felt like I belonged in Japan. I didn’t have to think about what my place was – I was, inherently, an outsider. A foreigner. But I felt welcome. I felt that it was okay to be who I was, because it was already expected of me. There was no pressure to be like others, no subtle suggestions to change who I was to fit in better. I was who I was, and that was okay. I didn’t have to be anybody else. That’s something I’ve carried back with me to the States, and I’ve been the happier for it.

I did not get homesick after I moved to Japan. I never even worried that I might. In the States, I lived in a city that I disliked greatly and had a job that was easy but boring and paid little and would go nowhere. In Japan, I lived in a quiet country town and had a job that challenged me every day in a good way. I taught English, which I loved doing, to people who were mostly interested in learning it. The kids, not so much, but they were maybe 30% of my day, so if I could get through them, I was okay. And even most of them weren’t so bad (some of them were, but I wasn’t the only one who had problems with them). And I made enough money that I could travel and explore and enjoy myself. The only time I wished myself back in the States was on my birthday (because of the Birthday Fiesta o’ Fun that my best friend and I always threw for ourselves) and around Christmas (because I love being with my family at Christmas). When Geordie and I got together, we made no initial plans of returning permanently to the States. Japan was where we both felt we belonged.

A year ago, we left Japan. It had been my home for three years. It is where I met and fell in love with Geordie, it is where Lauren lived and died, and it is where I spent the best years of my life so far. I love it, I miss it, and if Geordie and I were given the chance to return, I wouldn’t have to think very hard about it. We’re both hoping that a life in Japan is still in our future.

For now, we’re here, and that’s okay. I do like San Antonio, which is why I can let go of this homesickness and enjoy the life we have here. Because, no matter how much I miss Japan, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m with Geordie. Home is where Geordie and I are together, and that’s all I need.