A month down the line.
It's hard to believe that a month ago today we were both well in the depths of the most horrific long haul flight I'd never imagined I'd be mopping sick up on, navigating tiny aisles and even tinier seats with my lardy arse, or that we were about to embark on a holiday of a lifetime.
Let alone, be stuck on the other side of the world in charge of a frothing loud and hyperactive Small for ten days, with not even a sniff of another responsible adult to take the slack.
But we did, and it's done. And it's been really weird being home. Japan is the only place that less-than-stable 20-something me would've easily spontaneously gotten on a plane and never returned from, and I'm feeling the pull still even as a semi-conscious semi-adult 30-something, so it must have been decent. We've acquired this cute little mama-Small delusion where we'll still faux plan a day exploring the suburbs, like we're waltzing around bustling Ueno rather than schlepping the sodden streets of Barnsley.
I've yet to properly eat bread since coming back, my body's acclimatised back to not walking 10 miles a day and other than a slightly unhealthy obsession with cooking ramen daily and just shy of 2st having been misplaced somewhere, it's like it was all a very long and colourful dream. Small's feet have just about stopped hurting from our little treks, so I reckon it'll take her a while longer to feel the holiday blues!
Well, I say that. The suitcases are still downstairs, semi unpacked of all bar the goodies I've yet to find homes for, Small is still finding little trinkets from our travels. And I'm still putting away a mountain of washing. What goes up must come down, so they say.
We've come away with a greater appreciation of being outdoors, more respect for each other having shared and bared all in our time over there, and a significant lack of comprehension for rude bastards. I've only just stopped subconsciously bowing with every social interaction with strangers/service staff, and I'm still finding myself disgusted by bad manners and loud/shouty arrogance. Small is struggling more so with seeing graffiti everywhere back home, and her first words on stepping foot out of Manchester Airport were "mummy, isn't England really filthy compared to Japan". She's not wrong, but it's taken a good month just to realise quite how different a world it was.
On reflection, it was a really fucking big world too it appears, and I'm riddled with the 'what ifs' and the 'I should've gone back to that village/shrine/shop' moments. I'm at peace in the one sense, I reckon it'd have been sensory overload had we pushed harder to do even more and I'd have been discovered a glittering dayglo wreck shaking in a street corner had we tried to do more.... But do I feel bad that we didn't manage more shrines, more museums and the famous Ueno zoo, absolutely.
I've clearly struggled to make peace with being home, my purse is still bulging with 1 Yen coins and the IC travel card taking pride of place. It probably wasn't helped having a day to sleep then being back to work with Small heading back to school. Every now and again though, Small without prompt tells me just how much she enjoyed it, how she'll never forget our adventures and that she can't wait to go back. She's already decided shes going to go and live there a month when she's 25. I decided against arguing the specifics. The weather has changed, from the late autumnal acer leaves carpeting the front garden on the day of our return, to being cold, wintery with bare trees- there's no denying we're home.
But we have 81640 gachapon toys to play with (and still finding more to open), magnificently coloured outfits we acquired en-route, a kitchen full of ingredients to still eat as we were, and of course a newly acquired Crunchyroll subscription to binge all the anime she was fan-girling about whilst there. She's still saying please and thank you in Japanese, and the snuggles are even better after a week of being besties. I never thought having regular adventures as a solo mama on (potentially) ill-planned holidays would ever see us as we are now- content, together and more understanding of each other than ever, but here we are and I guess it worked.
So, until our next adventure, unless I fall out with the NHS and buy a campervan to disappear with her in tow, I guess that's it! Thanks for reading :)