American Vacation 2016 (coming).

I live in Japan, but the US will always be my home. Thus, I consider both places home. When speaking Japanese, I use the verb 帰国する (to return to one’s home country) when going to America, and the simpler verb 帰る (to return home) for when I come back to Tokyo.

My trip back to Japan was like always: early flight, Chicago transfer. To add extra annoyance, it was raining and humid as well. The drive to Pittsburgh was made more difficult due to periodic bouts of nearly-blinding rain. Stashed in my backpack were eight pepperoni rolls: six fresh-made ones from a nearby deli, and two packaged rolls left over from when I came in. (If questioned, I planned to explain they were my lunch.)

My plan to travel light had long since gone out the window, and with one suitcase overweight, I had to scramble to find a solution. Fortunately, money solves all problems, and I moved ahead. TSA was surprisingly fast, and we boarded shortly after. A quick doze and we were in Chicago. As usual, my gate was located across the entire terminal, and I had a long time to wait.

I wasn’t able to get an aisle seat, but I did manage an emergency-exit seat, which I was told was comfortable. The other good news was that my luggage was checked through to Narita. For lunch, I bought a Dr. Pepper (three bucks, ouch), and ate one of my packaged pepperoni rolls.

Sitting near the emergency exit on a plane requires you agree to a few terms (basically, you’ll help if things go south). The benefit to sitting near one is that you have all the leg room in the world, and getting up doesn’t bother the person next to you, even with a window seat (like I had). Your tray and screen fold out on a swing arm. You’re very near the restroom, and can easily see the best time to go. The downside is that there’s really nowhere to put your feet (i.e. no footrest). Moviewise, I watched Lucy (eh) and Captain America: Civil War (my second time, split by a nap). Our meals were mostly unremarkable as well, as they tend to be coming back: salmon and rice for the main meal, and a hot dog for our secondary.

Once at Narita, I quickly got my baggage, hopped the Keisei bus back to Tokyo Station, and caught a taxi back home. I spent the rest of the evening unpacking, consolidating, and rearranging things for maximum space, and the next two evenings transferring files between hard drives. It was good to be back.

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