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One year ago today, Jamie and I stepped off the plane with our 5 suitcases, two backpacks, my violin, and our cat. We got our rental car, and drove the hour and a half south to our home for the next three plus years. It was so surreal knowing that this place would be the place that Jamie and I have lived the longest together since we’d met. It was also weird to know that “home” would now be in a different country, with a different language and different customs/social mores. Though we had lived in this town for three months during the summer of 2008, it was different this time.

Our time here in 2008 was more of a vacation: we traveled every weekend, we tried different restaurants and ate the local cuisine…we were complete tourists (well, while working five days a week at our jobs). Plus, we were riding the high of just being newly married, and life was perfect. There was an end-date, as well…that fixed point in time where we would pack our bags and move back to our house. You know, the one we had spent MONTHS laboring over, picking out every detail right down to the fixtures on the cabinets. The one we had planned on putting a Yoshino Cherry Tree in the back yard, to always remind us of our time in Japan. The one where I had already designated a room for a nursery, for the time down the road when we decided to have kids. That home…

This time, that was all behind us. The house had been sold, the cars had been sold…everything we owned was either on a boat heading our way, on a plane heading our way, in our suitcases, in storage, or sold. It was a crazy feeling…absolutely removing all roots to one place and digging a hole to replant them in another.

Well…it’s a year later. I can say, with all honesty, that we have done just that. We have carved out a niche here that is uniquely ours. We’re working on our language skills (well, Jamie is…me, not so much), we live our life here much like we did back in the States. We cook, clean, go to the grocery store, and do laundry, just like we did back in the States. After a solid 365 days here, I can say this is now “home.” We’ve talked about the future here, having kids here, and potentially staying for another three years after this contract is up (which is totally up in the air and nothing more than a passing thought, but it has been discussed).

I never thought I’d be at this point, one year ago. I was excited, scared, out of my element, and experiencing some culture shock…and I never thought I’d be at the point where I was as comfortable in this foreign country as I was in the States. I’m not really even sure when it happened. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “ok…this is home.” It was more gradual than that…sort of like a shy animal that just gets one step closer to you every day you try to pet it. Eventually, you get to pet the animal, but it takes a long time to earn its trust. That’s how this place was with me. Every day, I’d get one step closer to thinking of it as “home,” but it had a lot to live up to. I was happy with our lives in the States, and knew that it would be difficult having that level of comfort here. But, gradually, it happened.

And here I am…one year later.