Romanticizing the Past; Thoughts About Visiting Home

I’ve decided to visit America this Easter holiday.

My relationship with “home” is a bit complicated.

First of all, I never really liked my hometown. I will admit that it was a pretty diverse neighborhood, a mix a Latino, black and white, with a peppering of East and South Asians. About 30% of residents living there have Puerto Rican heritage, and I was part of this percentage.

I suppose part of my distaste for my hometown was due to the discrimination I experienced. If you remember the feelings I expressed in “A Latino in Japan“, you’ll remember that I felt a lot of discomfort regarding the Puerto Rican image and cultural values. I didn’t feel like I fit in with other Puerto Ricans, and I disliked the casual racism that I faced time and time again.

The last time I returned home was in the summer of 2013, one year after I moved to Japan. The trip was underwhelming. I felt sort of obliged to visit home because it was the longest I had ever spent away. I spent my first year in Japan just figuring out how to do my job, sightseeing, and reflecting on my last few years of college. I think that visiting home that summer was too soon. I might have been better off traveling more of Japan.

This time around, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect and grow, and I’m going home on my terms.


Since coming to Japan, I’ve had a sort of battle going on in my head. As an American living in Japan, I of course tend to compare them quite often. If asked, I could write an extensive list of things I enjoy about Japan and America. There are also countless things I dislike about both. I think that will be true of anywhere I go.

As an expat and as an English teacher in Japan, I’m expected to talk about my country and my experiences abroad. I of course talk about all of these positive and fun things because it’s my job to talk up my country.

It may be due to this fact or perhaps due to my removal from the situation, but at times, I find myself accidentally believing my romanticized stories of American life. I start thinking, “Maybe I was just angsty, frustrated or bored, and it negatively painted my experiences back then?” or I try to convince myself that it couldn’t have nearly been as bad as I remember it.

When I returned to my hometown exactly a year after leaving, everything was as colorless as it was the day I left. The first morning after sleeping in my own bed, I spent the first foggy minutes upon waking reminding myself that Japan was not a dream, and that I hadn’t awoken back in 2012.

Do any other expats feel this way?


Last May, I came out to parents, and since then, I haven’t made so much progress with the situation. That being said, a little progress is still some progress.

I could have stayed quiet, especially because living in Japan, it’s not difficult to hide it from them. However, I wanted to find a way to connect my life abroad, which is free and open, to my life from home, where I kept to myself.

Here’s hoping I’ll have a fruitful visit.

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4 Comments

  1. I’ve been living in Japan for the past 7 months and am undecided if I want to stay or not. When I came here with my husband, I did a lot of research and was under the assumption that I may be able to get a spousal visa under his work visa. Google was my enemy, since many websites alluded to this, but never backed it up with any solid proof. So, after talking to immigration and a few lawyers, it was decided that I would need to get a job here in order to stay. I am currently working remotely for my company in the US and really wouldn’t have time to get a full time job. I do love Japan. It’s safe and there are so many things all of the time. This is all just a rant, but I am starting to have some of the thoughts you have here. Maybe it wasn’t so different or bad as the way I remember it…

    • It’s interesting you would mention the visa situation. I was searching same-sex marriage and visa information just the other day, and I read this information regarding foreigners bringing their foreign spouse; “…we basically admit entry and residence for a spouse of the same-sex marriage as “Specified Activity” of the Resident qualification.”

      Of course, like you mentioned, google is one thing and immigration is another. Here’s the link just in case you wanted to see. http://www.geocities.jp/kumustaka85/Eng/LGBTQ/Eng_2014_LGBTQ.html#head

      I understand how you feel about these complicated laws. I hope that you can continue to be by your partner’s side whether here or any country.

  2. Puerto Ricans are becoming the in thing now… Everyone is hating on Guatemalans now…. Well kinda…. With Trump as president, anyone who isn’t white is being hated on…. Are you sure you want to come back to America????

    • I have my reservations, and the timing couldn’t be worse, but at the very least, we can find a liberal haven on the east or west coast to live in. *prays at shrine*

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