Something I Wrote On The Plane
This past month I went to America for the first time since leaving the country for Japan last January.
It was a strange thing, going back. Seeing people and places I haven’t seen in a while. Finding myself surrounded by things that were once familiar and common, now strange and out of place.
This was also my first time seeing most of my friends and family since I came out earlier in the year, and while I didn’t expect any outright hatred or bigotry from any of them, I still didn’t entirely know what I was in for. When you add that onto the usual feelings and emotions one gets from seeing loved ones for the first time in a long time…well, it certainly made for an emotional return home in a lot of ways.
First I should probably mention the gay thing, which was not something some of my friends and family felt like doing.
I really, really want to restate that everyone I care about who cares about me doesn’t seem to really care that I came out. They all say the same thing, “they’re happy I’m happy.” And that makes me happy. But some other people said they were happy for me but they sure as hell didn’t want me to talk about it.
Many times these casual friends and acquaintances, upon seeing me again, would ask me countless questions about my life in Japan. “How’s your job? What’s it like in Tokyo? What’s the food like? Have you made a lot of friends? What’s your apartment like? Do you drive there? How do you find clothes?” (I’m a giant so this a good question). And so on.
But from these people I didn’t often get questions like: “What’s your boyfriend like? Where did you meet him? How are things going with him?”
A deafening silence.
I’m still struggling to figure out why this was. I do strongly suspect that one family member and a few of my more casual buddies were just straight up too embarrassed to bring it up. They were cool with me being gay, but they weren’t cool with me talking about it. I don’t hate or resent them for that, but I don’t get it. If you’re cool with it, you should be cool with it. Some people I talked to about it said that it would take time, and that they might not know how to ask questions about my relationship.
Well, if that’s the case, let me give anyone out there who has a gay friend a primer on how to treat their friend’s gay relationship.
Treat it like everyone else’s.
There. That’s easy.
Now, if you’re in my boat and you’re dealing with friends and family who are supportive but standoffish about you being gay, then maybe you should do what I did, and just aggressively bring it up every chance you get as much as humanly possible until they get it (politely) beaten into their loving but slightly dense skulls that there’s no difference between your relationship and any other.
Once I realized what was going on, I pretty much made it my mission to mention the fact that I had a boyfriend every chance I could possibly get.
“Oh, you like that show? My boyfriend loves that show too!”
“That reminds me of something my boyfriend said!”
“My boyfriend really likes this food too.”
“Oh, really? My boyfriend…”
You get the idea. By the end of the month, most of the more stand-offish folks had moved on and were more openly accepting, which felt nice.
The gay thing was actually less of a stressor than I thought it would be, which was a welcome surprise, as many other things that I wouldn’t think would be stressful or upsetting turned out to be.
When I left for Japan last year, the goodbyes were rough and at times very outwardly emotional. Lots of bawling and crying. Coming back, neither me nor my friends were teary eyed, but, at least for me, it wasn’t any easier to say hello again than it was to say goodbye.
When you have a friend, a good friend, a friend you see almost everyday or every week, and then you leave that friend, it’s sad. But you have the memories. You have the stories. You can look back and smile.
And when I came back, at first it was great! Lots of smiles, hugs, high fives and fist bumps. Lots of drinking and talking and watching movies and going out and doing all the dumb shit we used to do. Reminiscing about old times too, and that’s when it really hit me. The old times are gone.
Yeah, the week or so that I got to see said friend is great. But…that’s it. Now we’ll have to wait another year or so to see each other once more, again only for a few days. And the cycle will repeat. As the years go on, I assume that I’ll eventually lose touch with some of them, and others will change in ways that I might not expect. I’ll try to stay friends with them, as many as I can, but our friendships will never be the same.
That sucks. But that’s life I guess.
But life is change. And not all change is bad. Yeah, I moved away, I said goodbye to my friends who I love dearly. But I made new friends! And while I missed my old haunts in my hometown, I’ve made a new routine and go to new places, where I’ve experienced wonderful new things that I never thought I would have before.
And I’m in love! I’m in love with a beautiful man who understands and cares for me in ways that I never thought anyone would. My true soul mate.
One thing I heard a lot when I was back in the states was “How does it feel to be back home?”
I would usually respond with a shrug and a quiet, “Good, I guess.”
But now I realize that answer was a lie.
What’s it feel like to be back home? I don’t know. My plane bound for Tokyo hasn’t landed yet. This past month I wasn’t home, I was on vacation seeing old friends and family.
Now I’m on a plane heading back for Japan.
Now I’m heading home.