I was raised in the same place from ages 5 to 17. It is in the middle of nowhere and is extremely inconvenient to get to, but that’s what made it interesting and a great place to raise children. Although my town was considered relatively metropolitan for a small country town, once you set foot outside of the town, it’s miles and miles of open fields and farms. One thing that is really and truly beautiful about my hometown is the sky. Because there aren’t any skyscrapers, you always have a clear view of the sky. When there aren’t things to do, you learn to really connect with people and it’s really hard to be superficial. While I was there, I was always incredibly bored and dreamt about the places I could go after I graduated high school. I was so caught up in dreaming that I forgot to appreciate the good things about my hometown.
And I didn’t realize that until I left. In July of 2015 I came to the bustling city of Tokyo with a few suitcases full of stuff and so many dreams. I was ecstatic that I was in a place where I didn’t need somebody to drive me everywhere (I was not licensed while I lived in my hometown), and I could simply hop on the train and go basically anywhere in Tokyo I wanted to. This freedom was very refreshing and new for me. Not only in terms of transportation, I was freer in the sense that I did not have somebody deciding my schedule for me at university; I got to do it all myself. This freedom was exciting, but with it came a daunting feeling. The weight of my newfound freedom weighed upon my shoulders. Another thing that surprised me when I came to Tokyo was how it was constantly loud and bustling. It was definitely something that was different from my hometown. It was then that I realized that I missed the secluded life of my hometown, where things hardly change and it is incredibly peaceful and quiet. I yearned to go back to the peace and quiet and escape the hustle of a busy town like Tokyo.
The months pass, and the long wait for the airplane happens, and after what felt like a lifetime, I was finally back in my hometown. But it felt weird. I’ve got what I wanted. I’m back in my hometown that I know and love. Why didn’t I feel happy? My first time going back to my hometown was particularly difficult for me. It was overwhelming to see my past everyday life knowing that my days there were incredibly limited. Seeing my friends and not knowing when I would see them again. Eating at familiar restaurants and not knowing if I be able to taste the delicacies of my hometown again in the near future. When I first went back, everything was so incredibly comfortable, familiar and a little heart-wrenching, and it made me not want to leave. My time home then became a constant tug-of-war between wanting to go back to Tokyo and escape the boredom that was my hometown and stay in my hometown where I knew about absolutely everything.
But, I went back to Tokyo, although it was relatively hard at the time. As time went on, my constant yearning to be in my other home (Tokyo or my hometown) eased. There are days where I would very much like to hop on the next plane back to my hometown, but then there are the days where I am so glad that I came to Tokyo. Picking my favorite place to live is like picking my favorite child. Each have their perks and their downfalls, but both of these places define me as a person.
I still go back during long breaks. Although I don’t experience the same debacle that I did the first time I went back to my hometown, it always hurts a little bit to go back. This place raised me and I have so many memories, yet those memories have all past. I feel like I look at my town as a bystander and not as a resident. But, despite these complex feelings (and the ridiculously long flight), I will always try to pay tribute to the place that made me into the person I am today.