Since last Friday's earthquake, the resulting tsunami and the ongoing nuclear crisis, we have been receiving countless messages from friends and family worried about how we are faring amidst the devastation in Japan. So many of these messages were imploring us to leave, to come back to the safety of North America. Yet, in our city in Southern Japan, not a thing seems out of place: not a tremble, not a drop of water, not a stray particle.
In the English speaking media, there is a level of hysteria surrounding the events in Japan. A cynic might say that papers are playing on our collective fears of the impending apocalypse to increase sales. Reading the English papers, it seems like a full-scale nuclear meltdown is a done deal. In Japan, however, the reaction is much more measured. There is no panic. No hysteria.
Still, the situation in Japan did not look good - reactors on fire, explosions, fears of radiation, not to mention the massive numbers of displaced persons and the related logistical problems.
So, on Tuesday afternoon we decided to leave Japan. Not because we were in any immediate danger where we live. There were just a lot of unknowns. We just thought it better for Stella and me to return to North America, and wait to see how the situation played out.
Tuesday afternoon we bough tickets for Stella and me. Then, Stella and I rushed to the Chinese consulate to pick up our passports, which were still stuck in passport limbo after the visa-denial debacle. Then rushed home, hurriedly threw clothes into suitcases, to prepare for our morning flight out of Japan.
And now, here we are, back in the USA again, after another long trek through the multiple airports; another case of jet lag; another series of sleepless nights; another collection of nocturnal screaming fits. And for all these things, I count myself very lucky. I really do. Leave it to a natural disaster to put things in perspective.