The countdown begins

At the end of March when I flipped my calendar page to April, a sudden sense of urgency rushed through me. In a few short weeks my wife and I would embark on the trip of a lifetime. We were going to Japan. To Tokyo. To my youngest son’s wedding reception. The date on the calendar made it seem all too real – and suddenly all too close.

I was originally scheduled to travel to Japan in April of 2020. That trip was postponed thanks to the pandemic. I didn’t think it was ever going to happen in light of the circumstances. Now three years later I have a flight scheduled and a 10-day trip to Japan booked.

Finding flights and reserving hotels were the easy part. After some recommendations from my son it was just a click of a button. It was also far in advance, so it was easy to put off the rest of the planning. For a while we could just enjoy the anticipation.

Traveling overseas is a little more complicated than hopping on a JetBlue flight to Florida. There are passports to be updated, apps to install in our phones for boarding passes and Customs registration. The ever-changing covid protocols were the least of my worries.

People keep asking me “Have you packed yet?”. The answer for most of the month has been no. A week before my departure I gathered when I thought I would take with me. I tried to gauge the weather in Tokyo. I also spent time trying on jeans to see if any of my favorites still fit.

After estimating the weight of my packed suitcase by standing on the scale at home, I decided to edit my wardrobe for the 10-day trip. It was next to impossible to travel light since we had to bring additional clothes for the wedding reception, lighter clothes in case spring arrived early, and sweaters and sweatshirts in case the outside weather was cool.

We managed to narrow things down to two large suitcases, two large overhead carry-on bags, a garment bag that I was going to ask the stewardess to hang in the airplane storage closet if they had room, and two under-the-seat bags with all the things you need to pass the time on a 14-hour flight. You know, cell phones, iPads, sketchbooks, pencils, pens, composition journals, books, magazines, candy, snacks and gum – the usual.

And we weren’t done yet. We needed to make our pre-trip pilgrimage to Walmart to pick up incidentals. There were bills to pay ahead of time and arrangements to be made for a caretaker for our cat so we could detail her erratic feeding habits (thanks Joanne!). I had to stop my mail delivery, get some future work assignments completed and clean the carpets so they would be spotless for the cat to decorate with hairballs while we were away (sorry Joanne!).

There was not a moment to spare. We just finished printing out airline boarding passes and hotel confirmation when the car service pulled up to whisk us to Logan airport.

It’s hard to believe we are finally on our way to visit our son and witness the life he has created in a foreign country. We will be attending a wedding reception and meeting in-laws who don’t speak English. The two Japanese words I know should come in handy: Konichiwa and Arigato. Hello and Thank you.

A strange country with strange food and a strange language should be just what the doctor ordered to force us out of our comfort zone and shake off this post-pandemic funk.

Every parent wants their children to succeed. We’ve instilled confidence in our two sons from an early age. We let them know they could do whatever they want and become whatever they want. We just didn’t know our child was going to do it on the other side of the world.


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