Yes, we've been home for a little over a week! The transition has been complicated by all of us catching an annoying cold (even Charlie, who usually doesn't succumb). I started out with it a week ago, & it's definitely prolonged my usual post-travel, um, dislocation in place & time (that's the only way I can describe it). Brendan was coughing & blowing his nose by Wednesday night (& was up a considerable amount of it) so I kept him home from school Thursday. This certainly didn't help his transition back to normal life. Charlie came home from work Thursday & pulled a box of zinc lozenges out of his bag (purchased on a quick trip between seeing patients), & although he says he's not sure they've worked very well for him, I don't think he had nearly the difficulty sleeping (or breathing while sleeping) that Brendan & I have had, so I think they did work :)
In spite of the mini-epidemic, we have definitely been busy. Brendan- fanfare please- had his braces removed on Monday!!! After 2 years of gum & anything chewylessness, he's a free man (except for retainer, which he's finding a piece of cake). The expected orgy of gum-chewing lasted only about an hour or so, which only goes to show how much of it is habit, I guess. He's also seen nearly al of his regular doctors this past week (whew!) & been trying to adjust back to school. He's got just one week more, then he & Charlie leave on his 5-day class trip to Washington DC. Talk about adventure after adventure...
In between playing "mom's taxi service" I've been napping (thanks to the cold) & wondering what's next. I have been distributing the omiyage, too, & managed to print up some photos to show folks who ask about the trip. (It's made me realise that pictures don't really convey what was the best part of this trip, though, which was the interactions with so many people.) Giving our little presents to folks has been a lot of fun :) Some people are surprised that we were thinking of them while we were away, but I think it's pretty natural to think of home while you're away. It's the comparison between home & away that lets you know you're somewhere else, after all. And though Charlie's very relieved to be where people speak the same language as he does :) I am missing the daily challenge of thinking the way the folks in Japan do :) My first at-home purchase was the Japanese anime series "Aria", which I'd been watching online & absolutely adore. It's a science fiction show, really, since it's about Mars having been terra-formed & made habitable for humans (& very intelligent cats :), but the story is all about gondoliers in Neo-Venezia (on Mars, which is now called "Aqua"), complete with canals & San Marco Square. Since it arrived, Charlie, Brendan & I have been watching one or two episodes after dinner & they are really enjoying it, too. It's quiet, lovely, gentle, & yet the feelings are real & it's a lot of fun too.
One of the great things (I think ) about traveling is that you never completely come home (I also think). Being away took us out of our daily routines & now that we're back, it's impossible to sink back into them without thinking about them. It's really helped me think about how Brendan & I relate- a very timely subject as he teeters on the edge of teen-ager-ness. I've noticed patterns in my behaviour- for example, he tics loudly & I knee-jerk yell at him- & I understand better where these patterns & reactions come from. I've been explaining to Brendan that I'm becoming more aware of my own sensory difficulties, & I've come to understand that his loud tics disturb me because I'm sensitive to loud noises. Now we both understand what's happening, & my hope is that we can work on facing our issues side-by-side, rather than angrily facing-off.
Also, seeing Brendan interact with the big-wide world has helped me see some of the ways that I'm, perhaps, holding him back. It's a delicate thing- there are concepts, ideas, images, & very concrete things that interact with his OCD & autism, resulting in an overwhelmed, extremely distressed person. So how do we protect him from what he can't handle (yet- we see growth in these areas all the time) while not cocooning him from the world? A good example is some anime & manga which have content that would give him nightmares- but that all the other guys are talking about. I don't want him to be perceived as a baby to his peers, but I also want him to be able to sleep at night. I had an epiphany yesterday, after an animated discussion with one of his classmates about the anime "Bleach" (which I adore- although I prefer the manga- & have watched with Charlie). Brendan witnessed the conversation & as I was leaving school I felt unhappy & uncomfortable about how much fun I had talking about Bleach, but Brendan couldn't join in. The thing is, there are some very disturbing things in some of the first few episodes (3-5, to be specific) & Charlie had agreed with me that Brendan shouldn't see them. As I thought about it, though, I realised that we could skip these episodes pretty easily, since they are stand-alone episodes. I remembered that I used to do the same thing with "Inuyasha"- pre-watch & then share the episodes without anything disturbing in them, & he was just fine with that. So that's what I proposed to Brendan after school yesterday (which turned out to be a very difficult day for him, so it was great to be able to give him something to look forward to :). He was really delighted, & it was a lot of fun to watch the first 2 episodes with him. Plus, as we always watch the japanese soundtrack with english subtitles, it really enhances our japanese language learning :) (same goes for Aria- the dvds were released without any distracting dubs, which we really love).
So, we are home... but Japan is a very real presence in us. The best reason, yet, to travel :)