I’ve been to Japan before, and usually it was a few day business trip limited to airport – hotel – office – hotel – airport route. At first it feels exactly the same, like just one more business trip. It is only when I get the keys to my new apartment, move in, and finally, receive my stuff from Paris, when I start realizing that I am not going back, at least not anytime soon….
There are two times when we see everything differently: when we are new to the place, or when we know we are going to leave soon. In the first case, it is a discovery, putting new details piece after piece till your puzzle starts getting a certain shape. You see everything for the first time literally, observe, ask questions or try to figure out by yourself.
In the second case, you often know everything too well to notice the details. Yet, as soon as you know you are leaving, you start to see it all in a different light again. How many things you wanted to do, but you thought that you still have a lot of time for it? Not anymore! After 5 years in Paris I became like a tourist again, visiting spots where I haven’t been since the very beginning, spots that are my favourite ones (where I could go again and again), spots that I may have never gone to if I was to stay… I started taking pictures again and noticing all the small details about the city that I had already taken for granted.
And there is never enough time, believe me. You rush until the moment your plane leaves, feel suddenly relieved when on board (there is nothing you can change now anyway), and as soon as you hit the ground, it starts over again, maybe at a slower pace.
George Carlin was so right describing human nature and the role of “our stuff” (if you haven’t seen the video, search for “George Carlin talks about Stuff”). A new place becomes yours as soon as you can put some of your stuff here and there to make it feel more like home.
“Go slowly around the house, introduce yourself, be polite, so that it can introduce itself to you, make it yours. What are the four walls, anyway? They are what they contain” – said the protagonist in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. That’s exactly what I do.
In a few days and weeks, the puzzle expands from a few vital points like home, office and supermarket, to cover more and more. My home is where I am, and life goes on.