Japan, Life

Dealing With Homesickness

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When I was much younger, way before Japan even existed on my radar, I would spend about two months of my summer vacations either at sleepaway camp or visiting relatives.

It might be a personality thing, but even at a young age, I’ve always been relatively content wherever you place me. For this reason, I didn’t expect to experience a high amount of difficulty while adjusting to Japan. Or, if I did, I figured it wouldn’t be anything too serious.

At least, until I had a meltdown over hot sauce.

For whatever reason, I decided that I wanted buffalo wings and I needed a particular brand of hot sauce, because it had to have a specific taste, and no other hot sauce would do.

Unfortunately for me, I no longer live in Tokyo, so finding it in a store was impossible. It also cost a ridiculous amount to order it online and have it shipped, which ruled out that option.

So I did the only logical thing I could at the time.

I pouted, cried, and uttered the words “I want to go home.”  I then proceeded to spend the next few hours being a brat while my poor boyfriend had to pull out a dictionary to deal with me.

Luckily, he understood that this was about more than just the hot sauce.

Because it’s never JUST about hot sauce, right?

Instead, it’s about realizing all of the (minor) things we take for granted and having to come to terms with that in some way.

Of course, there are more obvious ways in which this manifests. For example, not being able to understand the language or do simple adult things on your own without a struggle is a common trigger.

However, the ability to eat something and have it instantly taste like home is something you might not think about.

Or the ability to walk into a grocery store and not always have to try to find substitutes or make due with what’s there. Or even the knowledge of knowing you can go to any other store in the area and the item you’re looking for will probably be in stock.

Most days, I can handle this disappointment.  If anything, I can turn it into some quest to hunt for my items or try to create something new. Sometimes you just have to take life’s lemons and do what it do. There’s no way around that.

But this particular time, I wasn’t in the mood to be logical. I  just overwhelmingly felt that for once I just wanted something to be easy.

You see, at that moment, I felt all of my frustration from months of trying to make the best of a situation come bubbling up to the surface and overflow.

And the hot sauce just so happened to be the trigger.

To date, the hot sauce meltdown has probably been my worst one since moving. I didn’t try to force myself be in a good mood or test new things that day.

I permitted myself to be upset until the mood passed and then went about my business.

It’s not often, but when I have these feelings where the world that I’m living in is just grating my nerves because everything is so different, I just don’t try to force it. Instead, I try to inject as much familiarity into my life as possible.

I’ll reach out to friends or family, do or eat things that I already know I enjoy, I may even avoid going outside for a day just to give my brain a break.

The good thing is the feeling is normal, and it almost always passes.

The best thing is knowing that I’m not a nut for having a meltdown over hot sauce.


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