It is said that the journey is half the fun, but the older I get, the more I seem to prefer getting there, wherever “there” may be. I’ve never really been a big fan of air travel, as regular Mysterious Orientations readers well know. This is especially so when the flight in question is my semiannual hemispherical marathon of some twenty-two hours counting layover time, a case of deep vein thrombosis just waiting to happen only three short days from now.
The preamble to the flight is more oppressive still (albeit with less chance of DVT), with an endlessly-inflatable to-do list, every item of which must be duly checked off prior to departure: stack the newly-arrived firewood; wax the car and remove the battery before covering it up for the winter; put a bit of money into the Canadian bank account to deal with unplanned exigencies while I am gone; clean out the fridge and drop off all perishables to one of my few adventurous PEI friends who might be coerced into trying keema curry, Israeli couscous, or prefab Pad Thai; endlessly pack and repack the suitcase, taking care each time to relocate the passport, traveler’s checks, and Ibuprofen, all of which would be problematical to replace in Japan; turn off the phone and utilities for the duration; drop the keys off to the woman who takes care of my house while I am away; call the plumber to have the pipes drained just before I leave, hopefully timed such that I can take one final shower shortly before departure, so as not to offend my seatmate on the imminent flight. And so on, ad nauseum.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Saki is meeting with the gas man, the water man, and the electric and cable guys, basically doing the reverse of what I am doing, getting the Tokyo apartment ready for habitation once again. We allow a couple of weeks for this as a rule, and for the most part that seems sufficient time to get things dealt with smoothly at both ends.
One thing that makes the departure process a bit easier in one way, and a bit harder in another, is the series of invitations for “one last get-together” at the houses of various friends and relatives as they realize that my departure date is closing in. I take in good stride the usual amount of ribbing about being a wuss when it comes to cold weather, a charge I don’t even bother to try to refute any more, as it is patently true. And then I go home after supper, bloated and lethargic from food and libations (not to mention good conversation and laughter), and somehow try to drum up the courage to attack another item or two on the to-do list before bedtime. I am not whining about this, please understand; I quite like the seasonal aspect of my life. But if I ever win the hillion-jillion dollar Lotto, a) I’m gonna find me a factotum to handle the house opening and closing details, and b) I’m gonna do the trip the civilized way, on luxury trains and cruise ships, as the Good Lord intended.