The last day of school. A year for the record books ended at noon today. On my walk home I pondered that age-old question,”Just how late can I sleep before a long-established caffeine addiction bulldozes through REM?” when an eye-catching swarm of activity buzzing around my apartment building grabbed my intrusive nose and led it along for a gleeful snoop in to the business of my neighbors. Sweating husbands were frantically loading suitcases, tents, hockey equipment, trunks, and any other minutiae needed for the summer minus furniture, in to a stretched line of patiently idling cabs.
One neighbor stuck her head out of a half rolled down window.
“Ouisar-san- you’re here until July right? I put our keys in your mailbox- have Offspring #1 take care of Kitty for us while we’re gone! Thanks! See you in September.”
The cab screeched off her hand still waving good-bye, blonde hair slapping against the roof top, a weary husband left sagging on the curb.
A mass Exodus not seen since Moses duplicated in every apartment building in downtown Tokyo.
By 4:00, the swarm of ExPats had descended upon Narita airport, eaten all the strange variations of KitKats available, boarded dozens of planes bound for LA and NY, and vacated Tokyo for the summer.
This reminded me of a conversation held at a Christmas party:
Man- “What are you doing this summer?”
Ouisar-san “Traveling around Japan.”
Man- “WHAT? WHY would you do that? ALL the wives go home for the summer. You’ll be by yourself.”
His violent response to my summer plans caused a thought to run through my mind, and in a rare show of self-restraint not straight out of my mouth,
“At least I’ll have your girlfriend to keep me company.”
The idea of leaving for the summer seemed disjointed as if abandoning our new home for the summer signaled it wasn’t really home, but just a temporary landing pad until the next assignment. Something akin to having one foot in each country. The Clampitts have been known to pull up stakes quickly, in fact, it has been suggested that tents should be our housing choice due to ease of transport. The Offspring are quite facile at handling questions regarding our multiple moves not associated with military assignment or tax evasion. Our homes always reflect a certain “just moved in look,” as drapes are never hung until year 2 which upon completion guarantees the appearance of a “for sale” sign in the front yard. But, when one moves from Seattle to Houston, does the family return to Seattle every summer?
When I’m absolutely honest with myself, leaving for the summer isn’t all that attractive. I’d have the two Offspring plotting their dastardly terrorist activities without the balancing yin of Spouse to help block and tackle. I’m a firm believer in “two heads are better than one” and “all hands on deck” when dealing with the ruthless extremism of terrorists. Although a staunch supporter and advocate of the “no negotiation” strategy- by the end of an extended time frame of lone prolonged exposure, I fear a weakened state leading to severe negative consequences including a total loss of control throughout the remaining teenage years.
Of course, there are other reasons to stay.
It has been proposed by some of my more cynical compadres, that the prolonged summer vacation of the family sans Dad leads to the addition of a new family member – his summer girlfriend. Being pragmatists, Spouse and I agree divorce is just too costly. We concur that any girlfriend should be young, healthy, and very energetic as I will greet her with open arms, two loads of laundry and a grocery list. She’ll be earning her keep. Spouse is optimistic regarding the shoe being on the other foot and is confident I can land a younger someone still capable of pitching a baseball. I on the other hand think some up front investment will be required including the expertise of a surgeon willing to give me Size D boobs, Size C lips and another inch between my eyeballs and eyebrows for the arched “come hither I’m really only 3o” look.
Of course, the Offspring and I do have friends outside the ExPat community who don’t join a cavalcade leading out of central Tokyo not to be seen again until September 1st. A concept has emerged in the Clampett household which advocates spending time with local friends doing activities such as swimming, visiting Fuji Q Highland and skateboarding. All seem to be reasonable filler for the months of June, July and August.
The school year has been filled with sports, homework, and activities other than enjoying the country in which we currently reside, so now is the time to really get to know her. We’ll be staying- and seeing a lot of this: